Friday, June 16, 2017

Does Congressional Shooting Cause a Pause in the Hostile Rhetoric? 9KUSA, TaRhonda Thomas

Majority Whip Steve Scalise | WGNO
In a June 14 9KUSA noon interview with TaRhonda Thomas, the political impact of the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others was discussed.

Congress was quickly reacting with a pause in the partisan rancor and reflection on the danger current political rhetoric has on unstable individuals.

A few observations:
  • Congressional baseball is one of the few activities congresspersons interact socially between the parties. Hopeful, shooting won’t negatively affect it. Congress would be benefited with more bi-partisan social events.
  • The attack will likely add calls for more security as members move about D.C. At home, Congress depends on local law enforcement, but only if there is an identifiable threat. One hates to see anymore separation of the political class from their constituents and voters.
  • There has been an unusually tense period in American politics with the close and disputed election and polarizing impact of President Trump. Although a brief respite from the partisan wars would be welcome, it is unlikely to last long. The country and Congress are too divided with too much at stake to see a long-term change in strategies, tone and heated rhetoric.
  • In 2011, when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, there was a moment of calm, but quickly the partisan battle started again. Almost immediately, finger-pointing began as to who was most responsible. Gun control versus gun rights groups were quickest to engage in blame-placing. 
  • Social media today, along with 24-hour cable news, ramps up the effort to use the shooting for partisan advantage. No doubt today presidential supporters and detractors; i.e., the alt-right and the resistance, will take to social media. Blame is assigned to the “left” as the shooter supported Bernie Sanders, and quickly Kathy Griffin’s bloody mask and New York Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar were construed as causes of violence.
In a follow-up interview for the 4:00 pm news with Jessica Oh, I commented on the public’s broader concern: “I think there’s a general feeling right now that we have so raised the rhetoric that it may be triggering some things that wouldn’t happen ordinarily.”

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