Steve Scalise represents one of my neighboring districts here in Louisiana. On Wednesday, he was shot by a gunman during baseball practice in Alexandria, VA just across the Potomac River from Washington. While he is expected to recover, he will likely deal with the pain and damage for the rest of his life. In case you’re wondering, a 7.62mm rifle round does an incredible amount of internal trauma, especially when it hits you in the way Scalise took one.
Right now, both Democrats and Republicans are pleading for more civility in politics. Paul Ryan has lamented our toxic political climate, complete with fake news and partisan violence, and said that the attack on Steve Scalise is an attack on all of us.
To all of this hand-wringing and blame for the shooting, I say give me a fucking break. Where were the calls for more unity when Gabby Giffords was shot? When all of those children were gunned down at Sandy Hook, the first thing Republicans did was warn their most fanatical followers that this event would lead to President Obama taking their guns.
The price of assault weapons skyrocketed, and trying to find .223 ammo that was affordable was about as hard as trying to get a Republican to admit climate change was real. Ted Nugent suggested killing Hillary Clinton and President Obama, and Donald Trump, a candidate Scalise supported, suggested that 2nd Amendment people could deal with Secretary Clinton was elected.
I have no sympathy for Steve Scalise. This is a man who voted against healthcare funding for 9/11 first responders, takes donations from the NRA, and is part of the GOP plan to gut Obamacare. The man who shot him had no business owning a gun of any kind, much less the assault rifle he was armed with that day. Yet Scalise has opposed any sort of gun regulations, because he cares more about the wishes of the NRA and the fanatics he represents, instead of the thousands of Americans who are killed every year by gun violence.
Steve Scalise also has a comfortable relationship with white supremacists and has described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.” He even represents the district which elected Duke to the Louisiana legislature, and addressed a Neo-Nazi convention in 2002.
The right-wing rhetoric for years was a fever dream of conspiracies that President Obama was a secret Muslim intent on installing sharia law and taking away people’s guns. Republican lawmakers, including Scalise, egged this racist and insane fever on and very few tried to call for calm and reason.
I’m obviously not condoning the actions of the man who shot Scalise, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the GOP is far and away responsible for creating the toxic political climate that led to this incident. Now the chickens of the partisan maelstrom the GOP and their media cronies have come home to roost, and only now do they want to cry foul when one of them takes a rifle round to the hip.
I hope that in between doses of morphine and surgeries, Congressman Scalise finds his humanity and decency that he buried in the swamp many years ago. Maybe this will be his “Road to Damascus” where he realizes that being an NRA stooge and a partisan hack isn’t worth it any longer. We can hope, but I’m not going to hold my breath.