The terrible events surrounding last week’s semi-automatic killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut stopped the nation in its tracks. Quite understandably, we took a collective pause to consider the implications of a disturbed man, armed to the teeth, who could just walk into a primary school and kill small children and staff with abandon. The circumstances are saturated with a heightened sense of pathos given the time of year. The holiday season is a multi-cultural, multi-faith time of family and celebration and last week’s news did not ask much of us in the way of empathy. Who can imagine walking in the shoes of those who lost a child or family member in this tragedy? How isolating and painful must it feel for those burying a loved one against a backdrop of communal food preparation, ritualistic gift procurement and the repetition of well-loved Christmas Carols? There are few of any political stripe who can’t locate common ground in grieving for these devastated souls.
At a time when we are reminded anew of the frailty of human life and the technical advances in modern weaponry that render it ever easier to claim, perspective should be relatively easy to locate. Petty partisan squabbles ought to take a backseat to the the recognition that something is deeply broken within the American system. Children of any socioeconomic class should be able to go to school without encountering a madman carrying guns. We need to take a new look at what the Second Amendment actually protects. Does a right to bear arms revoke the right to set limits on how that liberty is exercised?
And somehow Sandy Hook has cast Republican recalcitrance in the face of the looming fiscal cliff in the base light in which it deserves to be viewed. While perusing the New York Times this morning, I encountered a post on the paper’s “Debt Reckoning” blog by writer Jonathan Weisman. In the piece, entitled “Boehner Intends to Pursue a ‘Plan B’ on Taxes,” Weisman writes:
“House Speaker John A. Boehner, playing hard ball only days before the nation heads into a fiscal crisis, will tell fellow House Republicans that he will move forward with his own tax plan in the coming days to increase tax rates only on income over $1 million, then shift the fight on spending cuts to early next year when the nation runs into its borrowing limit.”
The timing for this sort of pathetic gerrymandering could hardly look worse. Does this group care about its current and future reputation whatsoever? The GOP has become almost synonymous with tone-deaf, small picture thinking. Our President displayed the calming, sober leadership we have come to expect from him. He emotionally addressed the tragedy while traveling to Newton to offer direct comfort to the community. Boehner and Company continue to look for a lifeline for a drowning, unpopular platform; one that protects the wealth of the very few, even as they scream about the immorality of deficits.
It seems as if the deficit is being used as a bargaining ploy by the Republicans. This ploy is being used against a president who is being distracted by the growing crisis of mass public executions. Something that is largely stoked by the continuous rollback of firearm regulations from an NRA-loving Republican party. While Obama’s attention is focused elsewhere, let’s paint a fake portrait of compromise then should the President hold his ground, tar him with accusations of misplaced priorities.
The White House should not let this happen. For over 12 years now, Republican positions have been responsible for; one fiscal, foreign policy, domestic agenda, middle class welfare catastrophe one after another. Then while Obama is busy cleaning up assorted messes, they try to make a new one unchallenged. It’s pathological.