What happened in Arizona was an unthinkable tragedy and the man (Jared Lee Lougher, they always have 3 names, don't they?) who executed that horrific shooting spree should receive the death penalty. (But he probably won’t even end up in prison.) There’s no doubt about the evil of the act. But what’s really starting to irk me is the opening of political season on the heels of such sadness.
First was Sarah Palin taking the opportunity to speak out about the event, via Facebook of course, because that’s the only way to ensure no public meltdown or humiliation for her when speaking. Many are attacking Palin because she had previously alluded to the targeted congresswoman (Giffords) in campaign stumps. To me, this is ridiculous. Outrage against Palin suggests that she actually knows what she’s talking about, actually has a rock-solid position on something, anything, when the complete opposite is proven again and again. She’s a hand-puppet, people. Just stop publicizing her “take” on major happenings. It’s equitable to wondering why a dog rolls over and begs for a bone after being shown the trick 10,000 times. There’s no thinking behind it. It’s robotic, phony, rote memory. Sit, Booboo, sit. Good dog.
As I’m writing this, the Tuscan Memorial is on TV. One by one, America’s major politicians are taking to the podium, from the Governor of Arizona to Obama himself. In regards to Danny Hernandez, the term hero is getting flung around, a title he rejects, of course. “America will stand as one,” and “We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunmen,” and “We will become stronger from this,” has been said over and over again, as the star-studded crowd responds with rocking applause. It goes on, and on, and on, one speaker after the other saying the same thing, receiving the same applause. “Thank you to the first responders, the real heroes.” The script is predictable.
But I wonder what happens five minutes from now when there’s no political advantage to paying this tragedy airtime. In other words: what is all this memorializing, and praying, and thanking going to do for us as a nation when it’s no longer for an alternative agenda? Everyone is going to get their two cents in now, while the national conversation runs red hot, so that they can plaster it all over a campaign commercial in November. Then one day, something else will happen, and all this emotion will be dropped faster than a Jennifer Aniston DVD. But for now, Obama will quote the bible and promise that we will never forget this, never. I’ve heard that before. We’ve heard that before.
There was a time when I believed in big, boisterous talk like this. After 9/11, I believed that America was the kind of country that sought out evil and obliterated it with good. But ten years later, there’s still no bin Laden, and it looks to me like we’re just chasing oil control around the Middle East. Heck, it may’ve been our own government that plotted the tumbling of our Twin Towers, for that same oil. I just don’t know anymore. Good over evil? Good God. We live in a country that acquitted OJ Simpson of blatant, in-your-face double murder. There's a system at play, people.
We’re a very political country, no doubt, but never more than in times of tragedy. In times like these our political leaders would wrestle a spitting cobra for 5 minutes of mic time. Maybe that’s the biggest tragedy of all. And in the end this lunatic will weasel his way out of prison by pleading insanity, and a few years from now, who knows, maybe he’ll be on furloughs, having lunch with bin Laden at Tavern on the Green.
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