See Also: US media on Giffords shooting
Commentators in the US media have been quick to react to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Arizona.
Of course, the human losses of today's attacks in Arizona are immeasurably greater than any political or social toll. But it would be irresponsible to fail to note that a young, highly educated, ambitious Jewish woman like Gabrielle Giffords, despite her centrism, represents much that is revolutionary and hopeful about the changing face of American politics, as well as about the new and varied paths and possibilities available to women. She is the kind of politician this nation could barely have imagined existing just a decade or two ago. And so, when I have been asked about which women are not yet national stars but have the peculiar, groundbreaking alchemy it might take to someday become the nation's first female president, again and again my answer has included the same name: Gabrielle Giffords.
Howard Fineman, writing for the Huffington Post, warns that voters are likely to lose access to politicians as a result of the attack:
The shooting of Rep Gabrielle Giffords is a watershed event in many ways, some of which we cannot yet know, but one of the clearest and simplest is this: Congress and its members are about to be permanently quarantined, physically isolated, from the people it and they represent.
The truth is there is evil in this world. Evil exists where God does not and as we drive God further and further away, evil creeps in more and more. Today was not a random act of violence. It was a profound evil. Let's not pretend it wasn't. Let's not pretend evil does not exist.
Paul Krugman, writing in his New York Times blog, considers the potential political ramifications:
We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She's been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she's a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that "the whole Tea Party" was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin's infamous "crosshairs" list.
Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it's been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc and the violence I fear we're going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it's long past time for the GOP's leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
Writing in the National Journal, Matthew Cooper notes that a grim first has been recorded:
The shooting of Giffords - a mother (her husband had children by a previous marriage), a young woman of 40, the wife of an astronaut and the in-law of another who is currently in space - is horrible by any measure. It is the first time a female elected federal officeholder has been shot.
It's a reminder that female politicians are no more protected than female cops or firefighters, soldiers or corrections officers. And yet the first time we hear about a mother killed in the line of duty or a female POW, it curdles the stomach, not because of paternalism but because it marks a new barrier of decency that's been broken.