It’s abundantly clear that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was the intended target of unhinged, unskilled gunman Jared Lee Loughner. What’s not clear is motive.
Maybe it wasn’t politics. Let’s be honest, whatever Loughner’s shortcomings, he had excellent taste in obsessions. Nobody else wants to say it, fine. I’ll say it: Gabby Giffords is a hottie. Well, maybe not at this moment with half her skull in a freezer bag, but three days ago (and hopefully again, soon) she might as well have walked around in stiletto heels and a sash that read “Miss Capitol Hill”. I could be wrong, but maybe Sarah Palin’s whole issue with Giffords boils down to who’s prettier. It’s absolutely no contest. Giffords is better looking than Palin, Michele Bachmann and Christine O’Donnell put together. I know how wrong it is to come right out and say it but, damn, Gabby is one sexy lady. (At least by popular standards. My personal tastes run more toward Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who looks good without giving the impression that she’s working that hard for it.)
My point is, maybe the Giffords shooting had less to do with Bobby Kennedy’s and more to do with Selena’s.
Not that I believe it for a second.
Before we get into motives, though, let’s be clear about this Loughner character. He is beyond stupid, beyond incompetent. He makes the Times Square bomber and the Underwear bomber look like a couple of Caltech department chairs. I mean, how dense is this guy? He sets out to shoot a Democratic congresswoman but ends up killing a Republican judge. And not just any Republican judge: the highest-ranking federal judge in Arizona, a guy who stood as much a chance as anyone of being named to the Supreme Court if fellow Arizonan John McCain would’ve won the 2008 presidential sweepstakes. Not only that, Loughner also kills a precious, adorable nine-year-old girl. And, again, not just any precious, adorable nine-year-old girl. She’s the granddaughter of a World Series champion, born on 9/11.
He does end up shooting the congresswoman, point-blank in the head, and fails to kill her. For all we know and as we all hope, she’ll make an astonishing recovery for someone who sustained a 95%-fatal wound and whom NPR reported uncontested for 20 minutes as having died.
I’m certain this isn’t the last evidence of Loughner’s incredible idiocy, but it’s the last one I can think of right now: If it takes you more than two bullets to kill somebody, find another hobby. This community college washout takes 62 rounds on the errand. Excuse me, but if you’re bringing that many bullets on a mission like this, I have to assume that the last one has your own initials carved in the casing. This was a suicide mission. This dim bulb even failed at that. A bunch of old codgers who hang around an Arizona Safeway early on a Saturday morning sat on you until the cops came. Great job, shit-for-brains. You’re thicker than a ten-dollar milkshake.
You wanted attention? You got it. The President of the United States called the Director of the FBI and ordered him to personally fly out to your dry, dusty hometown and take personal charge of the federal, high-crime investigation of your sorry, self-medicating, stoner ass. Your teabagger buddies like to complain about wastes of taxpayer money? I’m with them on this one.
And that’s where motive comes in.
It’s OK for knuckleheads like me to jump to the conclusion that gunsight imagery, senatorial candidates who invoke “Second Amendment remedies” if people who think like her lose at the polls (like Sharron Angle herself did) and other violent imagery that moved from the Wingnut Right to the Just Plain Folks Right over the past couple years fueled Loughner’s preexisting paranoia. It’s not a far stretch. I entirely believe it to be true. But I can’t prove it.
But I don’t have to. I’m just another guy with a two-bit opinion.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is in the business of gathering facts he can prove in court. He has no business spouting off about “vitriol” and “bigotry” in the media in the current context. If, once this case is over, he wants to make civility on radio and TV his mission and go on a lecture tour about it, I’ll buy a ticket. Ditto if he wants to rail against Arizona’s practically non-existent gun laws. (It’s still legal for a school to ban firearms on campus but, outside of that, anything goes in the Grand Canyon State.) I really do appreciate that a born-and-bred Southwesterner with a half-century law enforcement career who came of age before the Civil Rights struggle should be so progressive on issues like these. But, respectfully, the sheriff shouldn’t be opening his cakehole about any of this. To start with, he runs as a Democrat and this leaves him open to charges of partisanship if he’s speaking out against the Rush Limbaugh wannabes of the world. More importantly, he blurs the line between fact and opinion in what are the most eagerly attended press conferences in a long while.
In that first presser, he brought up the state of the national discourse by himself, not even in response to a question. I figured he knew something I don’t about Loughner’s specific motives. Maybe Loughner had a suicide note on his person. Maybe they impounded his computer and found a string of militia movement web sites in his favorites list. Maybe he had every Glenn Beck episode ever broadcast DRVed. Maybe they turned on his car radio and Savage Nation came blaring out.
Any and all of that might be true, but Dupnik isn’t saying. I give him credit for going on Fox News to clarify his position but, if all he has to say to Megyn Kelly is, “That’s my opinion, period,” he shoud keep that opinion to himself until the investigation is complete.
Just another reason I’m just as likely to vote for a conservative as for a liberal for local office.
Dubnik should leave the opinions to those in a position to present opinion as just opinion. Which isn’t to say he’s wrong, just inappropriate (much like this entire posting).
What’s also wrong is the conservative media’s assertion that there is no link between rhetoric and action. If evidence of a direct link is eventually established in this case then, much like climate change and evolution, it will still be “debunked”. Those with long memories recall how we had exactly this same dance in 1994 after G. Gordon Liddy refused to walk back his “head shots” comments in the wake of the Oklahoma City attack.
And let’s not forget that, although the preponderance of violent imagery comes from the right these days, the left isn’t blameless either. Keith Olbermann, if you ever again ask your audience to “get out your pitchforks and torches,” then you, sir, are full of shit.