, , , , ,

There’s nothing like making hay while the sun shines. And for some Republicans, Missouri’s Ann Wagner (R-2) for instance, an angry shooter with frustrated liberal inclinations who went after Republicans a couple of days ago seems to have brought out the haymaking sunshine. She’s been taking heat for her adamant refusal to meet with constituents in a public forum. Now she’ll have an excuse – it’s just too risky.

Reading a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article where Wagner gives her account of the suffering she and the “twenty-nothing-year-olds” (??) on her staff have had to endure from maddened progressives made me wonder what it is with Republicans and the cult of victimhood. As far as I’m concerned the only victims in this instance are the folks mowed down on the playing field last week – and the issues behind the shooting go far beyond a progressive sympathizer’s attack on retrograde GOP politicians.

Wagner reports that she has received death threats. But, as one of her colleagues, Joe Barton (R-TX), observed, it goes with the territory: ” I am an adult” he remarked “and I made a conscious decision to run for Congress,” adding, somewhat ironically under the circumstances, that “nobody puts a gun to our head and says we have to run.”

Of course, Wagner makes it clear that she’s not  worried for herself. She’s just too selfless and caring. But she does unctuouslly emote about the travails of her staff of near children – those twenty-nothing-year-olds – and her neighbors, none of  whom I believe have reported any death threats, although I am very sure that her staff members are having to field some pretty angry calls. But again, it goes with the territory.

Wagner whines that protestors are “vandalizing my home, showing up with masks and gravestones, and laying down on my driveway and drawing chalk outlines of dead bodies. Picketing my church at 8 and 10 o’clock Mass.” A comment on the Post-Dispatch Website offered a different perspective, however:

…I think her descriptions of these events are largely overblown. The small group of people at her church held signs with biblical quotes about caring for the sick and poor. The chalk drawings on her street were not death threats, they were symbols of people who will die under the health care plan for which she cheered on national television. Police were present in her neighborhood and will tell you the protesters obeyed all of their directions. If there was threatening behavior I’m sure they would have known or stepped in. The town hall meeting she called “radical” was a group of well-behaved old folks at a community center talking about why they didn’t support that health care plan or her other decisions. …

While I’m not sure I’m totally happy to be characterized as part of a group of “old folks,” I have to accept the description as apt, as least in regard to me, and the “well-behaved” part is an equally apt description of the group as a whole. The account above fits better with what I know about the growing opposition to Rep. Wagner than her own rather obviously self-serving efforts to “go public” about the persecution she wants us to think she endures. It’s more than likely that the protestors pose less threat to Wagner’s well-being than she poses to their freedom of speech – a value Republicans seemingly espouse only when it comes in the form of a big check.

I’m sure that outlines of dead bodies in one’s driveway are distressing – but not as distressing as the prospect of real death for those of us who will be left with no access to healthcare if Wagner  has her way. The images are harsh, but the truth behind them is equally harsh and should fall heavily on Wagner’s shoulders. She needs to learn that very few individuals will kiss her feet for doing yeoman’s duty with the GOP wrecking crew.

Wagner’s histrionics aside, it is indeed a sad fact that politicians, like entertainment figures, make easy targets for the detritus of emotionally unmoored individuals inhabiting our increasingly gun-ridden and violent society. Ask Gabby Giffords. No sane person condones violence, but given the failure of Republicans such as Wagner to address the thriving gun-culture and their encouragement of the angry paranoia that feeds it, she ought to be one of the last to complain.

For my money Tom Sullivan of Hullabaloo got it right when he wrote today that;

… People like James Hodgkinson don’t buy guns to attack politicians. They attack politicians with guns because they feel helpless, adrift in the world described above. Guns make them feel powerful again. Al Qaida? ISIS? Similar reasons, one suspects. […] Violence towards family members, politicians, and society at large is an outgrowth of an economic system that relentlessly transfers not only wealth upward, but democratic and personal power. …

In the next few days, until the event is safely forgotten, we’ll hear lots happy talk about “coming together,” a “return to civility,” and, of course, there will be the folks like Wagner, looking to escape responsibility for what they’ve done by falsely assuming the aura of victim. What we won’t hear is an intelligent discussion about the root causes of the anomie that animates the shooters.