Statemanship, decency carried the day
America is in deep social turmoil, wrote the scholar Angelo M. Codevilla in the high-brow Claremont Review of Books in late April.
“So many on all sides have withdrawn consent from one another … that it is difficult to imagine how the trust and sympathy necessary for good government might ever return.”
“Instead,” he wrote, “we have a cold civil war. Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.”
On Wednesday, statesmanship rose and declared itself as the nation learned a gunman had opened fire on Republican lawmakers playing baseball in Virginia.
Few scenarios are as spring-loaded for political exploitation as a liberal gunman turning his weapon on conservative leaders.
Only hours after that shooting, we knew James T. Hodgkinson was the man who shot and critically wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana.
He also shot a Republican congressional aide, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods and two Capitol Police officers, before he was shot and later died of his wounds.
His Facebook page was a screed against the Republican president of the United States and his GOP colleagues.
During the shooting, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama acted heroically by going to the aid of a wounded congressional staffer and using their hands and a belt to compress and tie off his leg wound.
When the shooting was over, Flake and Brooks were the first to reach Scalise, then sprawled in the outfield with a serious bullet wound in his hip. Flake and Brooks again compressed the wound and gave Scalise water.
Always a model of common decency, Flake called Scalise’s wife before she heard the news from the media. His actions set the tone for members of Congress that day.
The Democratic caucus joined in prayer for the victims. And Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan paid notice in a moving speech on the House floor.
“There are so many memories from this day that we will want to forget, and there are so many images that we will not want to see again,” said Ryan. “But there is one image in particular that this House should keep and that is a photo I saw … of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning.
We live an age when information has been democratized. When any fool can build an audience on the internet and spew venom. When a few crazed people can get their hands on guns and commit acts of terrible carnage.
James Hodgkinson, who supported presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is no more representative of Democrats in this country than Jared Loughner, who shot U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, is representative of college students.
It is preposterous to say otherwise. The real spirit of this country was demonstrated Wednesday by the larger part of America that found grace notes in all that turmoil.
Nothing can stop that America. And U.S. Rep. Martha McSally was the first to tell the Washington press corps that nothing will.
There will be no cancellation of the Congressional Baseball Game, she revealed. Republican and Democratic lawmakers will come together in Nationals Park tonight to raise roughly $600,000 for charity.
"We can't let anyone stop us from doing our work and from standing together," she said.