The Tucson shootings were a tragedy in every respect.
First, the shooter obviously was sick, and it is difficult to understand why someone did not only spot his behavior but also take action. This, in itself, is a puzzle.
There is no way to adequately express the tragedy and consequences of the loss of lives, totally innocent individuals.
Within hours of the shooting, the finger-pointing started with so-called knowledgeable observers and pundits claiming conservative talk radio commentators and even Sarah Palin were responsible for creating the shooter’s anger.
In addition to a federal judge being killed, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survived being shot in the head and now is showing almost unbelievable progress although doctors warn she still is in critical condition and faces a long and tough recovery.
This part of the overall story — the fight by Rep. Giffords — provides one small opportunity for hope and inspiration in an overall tragic and deadly incident.
Next came the memorial service where President Obama delivered a fine message urging Americans to honor those slain and injured by the shootings by becoming better people and talking with one another “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
But after the five days of mourning, finger-pointing, trying to figure out what caused the young man to do what he did, the injection of partisan political rhetoric into the national question of why this happened and messages from the president and other political leaders, what is likely to happen?
Hopefully, there will be an easing of the bitter, hurtful and angry attacks on individuals, whether they are directed at President Obama and those who favor his political agenda or those in the Obama camp blaming former President George Bush, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin for the angry mood that permeates the country today.
There may be an armistice or truce, for a period, but it’s likely the political war will resume fairly soon.
Democrats were shocked at what happened in the recent midterm elections, the loss of their majority in the U.S. House, their shrinking hold on the Senate, the loss of many governorships, larger GOP majorities in state legislatures and the falling favorable poll numbers for the president. They will do almost anything to stop this erosion of public support that could lead to Obama being a one-term president.
Republicans have been invigorated by their November 2010 gains and now are intent on renewing and strengthening their efforts to continue this massive political shift in November 2012, only 22 months away.
Through numerous polls, the public has shown it is disappointed, confused or mad about many “changes” Obama has pressed through Congress. Obama had campaigned on openness, transparency and bipartisanship, but there have been few examples of such actions during his first two years in office.
Democratic attacks on Bush 43 have been constant since he moved into the Oval Office and continue today. They have been mean-spirited, personal, crude and hateful.
Likewise, the conservative radio talk show people have been tough on Obama, but perhaps have not been as personal in their attacks as have those in the Democratic camp in their 10-year rant against Bush.
One of the major factors that triggered much of the dislike or mistrust of Obama was his many grand-sounding and welcome pledges to make substantial and meaningful changes in the way Washington does business and how the business of the White House would be conducted.
The only change that really has taken place is in the way he jammed legislation down the throats of Congress and the public, increased the national debt, used executive actions and increased government’s role in private business. There has been very little transparency, openness and bipartisanship.
With the election only 22 months away, there’s a good chance Obama will change his raw, bare-knuckled political approach in an effort to soften his image and look like a president reaching out to work with the GOP. How long this approach will last is questionable.
Republicans are sure to call attention to the “changes” initiated by Obama and question whether they have been good or bad for the country. Unemployment numbers are likely to remain high, and forecasts call for even greater numbers of home foreclosures. They will say the economic situation is worse today than it was when Obama moved into the White House and that he has not fulfilled the pledges he made during his first presidential campaign.
How will the Tucson shooting affect the next 22 months of desperate Democratic efforts to bounce back from the 2010 elections? And how will the GOP structure its efforts to oust Obama and gain numbers in the House and Senate?
How will Democrats try to counter the tea party efforts? How long will Democrats use their hatred of Bush as a means to energize their campaign workers and contributors?
Neither those in the Republican nor Democratic trenches want to be portrayed as breaking any truce that may have come about due to the Tucson shootings, but, chances are, hard-hitting attacks will emerge within a short time.
It’s a massive political war with huge stakes on the outcome. The verbal bullets are bound to start flying sometime soon as memories and nice-sounding pledges begin to fade.