That Washington

Gunman Shoots U.S. Rep. in Arizona, Federal Judge Killed in Attack

By Josh Feit January 8, 2011

The current Rolling Stone feature story on new speaker of the house Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) includes this startling passage:
Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."

Driehaus says Boehner was "taken aback" when confronted on the floor, but never actually said he was sorry: "He said something along the lines of, 'You know that's not what I meant.' But he didn't apologize."

This morning, we wake up to the scary news from Tucson, Arizona where centrist, pro-Obamacare Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at point blank range (breaking reports here, here, here, and here) after a 22-year-old gunman attacked her and several others today during a "Congress on Your Corner" event Giffords was hosting at a local Safeway to talk to constituents.

I am not blaming Boehner for the attack (and he has issued a powerful statement). Soon enough we'll have the details on the gunman—"dressed shabbily" is the quote right now.

But it's important to note that during a similarly polarized era (when Democrats were being tarred as "socialists" in 1995, and the anti-government rhetoric from then newly-appointed speaker of the house Rep. Newt Gingrich was turned up to 10), right wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh took matters into his own hands in Oklahoma City.

From today's New York Times report:
Last March, after the final approval of the Democrats’ health care law, which Ms. Giffords supported, the windows of her office in Tucson were broken or shot out in an act of vandalism. Similar acts were reported by other members of Congress, and several arrests were made, including that of a man who had threatened to kill Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.

And in August 2009, when there were demonstrations against the health care measure across the nation, a protester who showed up to meet Ms. Giffords at a supermarket event similar to Saturday’s was removed by the police when the pistol he had holstered under his armpit fell and bounced on the floor.

During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin’s map.

There was also this tense news from Tuscon today.

Gawker has this eyewitnnes account of the shooting.
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