NewsBusters Columns

President Obama is receiving uniform praise for his memorial remarks in Tucson, Ariz. Even conservatives are saying he hit the right notes, substantively and tonally. I agree, with a few qualifiers and gentle cautions.

Obama was eloquent in his tribute to the victims and appropriately acknowledged that "none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack ... or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind."

More importantly, he said: "But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. ... Let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy; it did not."



There are many heroes who showed indomitable courage and grace under fire during this weekend's horrific Tucson massacre. Blowhard Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was not one of them.

If the White House has any sense, President Obama will stay far away from the demagogic Dupnik and his media entourage when he visits Arizona on Wednesday to memorialize the victims. Indeed, if the White House is truly committed to unifying the country, it will explicitly disavow Dupnik's vulture-like exploitation of the shooting rampage.

Within hours of the bloody spree, Dupnik mounted more grandstands than a NASCAR tour champion. A vocal opponent of S.B. 1070, the popular state law cracking down on illegal immigration, Dupnik immediately blamed Arizona for becoming a "mecca for prejudice and bigotry."



In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and others, it is predictable that some self-centered politicians and political commentators quickly assumed the killer must have been provoked by political comments.

Following on that conclusion, they naturally argue (notwithstanding their exposure last week in the House to the reading of the Constitution, including the First Amendment) that whatever political words may have provoked him to his irrational violence should be silenced.

But as news organizations have begun to flesh out the interests and activities of the alleged psychotic killer, I am struck by several non-political factors that may have both shaped his mind and provoked his action.



Here's the House of Representatives new rule: "A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor has submitted for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution." Unless a congressional bill or resolution meets this requirement, it cannot be introduced.

If the House of Representatives had the courage to follow through on this rule, their ability to spend and confer legislative favors would be virtually eliminated. Also, if the rule were to be applied to existing law, they'd wind up repealing at least two-thirds to three-quarters of congressional spending.



Imagine the Saturday morning of congressional aide Mark Kimble. Kimble told of going to a Safeway for a typical meet-and-greet event with his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Kimble said he went into the store for coffee, and as he came out, Giffords was talking to a couple about Medicare and reimbursements, and federal judge John Roll had just walked up to her and shouted “Hi” – when a gunman opened fire.

Nobody in America should greet this scene with any other initial reaction than horror. Six people were killed, including Judge Roll, several retirees, and a nine-year-old girl. Over a dozen others were seriously injured in the carnage. Giffords was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. Sadly, shamefully, within just minutes, a nasty political spin was kicking in without any brake for decency or evidence. Conservatives were to blame.



My wife, Gena, and I mourn with the rest of the nation over the murder and maiming of innocent citizens and lawmakers in Arizona this past Saturday morning. We, too, pray for the victims and survivors. It makes us even more passionate in our fight for human life and reminding the world that from the womb to the tomb, human life is precious and should be prized.

Last week, two questions dominated the political landscape regarding Obamacare. First, will the new 112th Congress repeal it? And secondly, if Obamacare didn't offer advanced directives for end-of-life planning (aka "death panels"), then why did the Obama administration just repeal a Medicare regulation and reference for it covered under the new health care law?

Those are both great questions. But the one question being overlooked by too many is this one: If the 112th Congress fails to repeal Obamacare, will it include "baby death panels" in the future? In other words, will taxpayer money be used to provide for abortions under the new universal health care law?



In the aftermath of the senseless wounding of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, and the murder of six others, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green, there will be many who will use this tragedy to advance their own political agendas.

Explanations will be sought and blame assigned. Necessary questions will be asked: Did the clerk at the Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson violate any laws in selling the Glock 19 9mm gun to the accused, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner? Loughner reportedly cleared an FBI background check. So why didn't that check discover what one Arizona official called Loughner's "mental issues" and should they have disqualified him from purchasing the weapon?



"You didn't fly here to celebrate me," Marco Rubio announced from the stage of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.


The comment could have been received as a bit jarring coming from Rubio. Hours after being sworn in as a U.S. senator, this former insurgent candidate who bucked his party's national establishment to challenge their hand-crafted candidate -- Charlie Crist, the sitting governor at the time -- was presenting himself as nothing but a working man starting out in a new office. Here, the latest hot ticket in town, being talked about as any Republican presidential candidate's favored running mate, was turning the humble on high. This was the party to be at. Everyone seemed to drop by -- an impression one got as liberal Minnesota Sen. Al Franken posed for pictures with some of this tea party king's most loyal supporters.



Can you imagine the sheer audacity of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sermonizing that repealing Obamacare would do "very serious violence to the national debt and deficit"? This is the woman whose four-year tenure as speaker saw the national debt explode from $8.67 trillion to $14.01 trillion.

She's the lady who boasted, "Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go." Such is the state of Pelosi's credibility that even 19 of her Democratic colleagues voted against her for speaker.

When it comes to a wide spectrum of issues, I'm not sure which planet Pelosi and her ilk of liberals inhabit, but the Obamacare fiasco takes their otherworldliness to another level altogether — and that's being charitable because it assumes they're innocently unaware of how wrong they are.



Fun fact: Bill Daley isn't the only new chief of staff in the White House with longtime ties to the Chicago Way. Yep, it's No Windy City Corporate Lawyer Left Behind Week in the nation's capital.

On the other side of the White House, deep-pocketed campaign finance mega-bundler Tina Tchen was named first lady Michelle Obama's new right-hand woman. Or rather, left-hand woman. The self-described "progressive" attorney from Chicago is taking over as chief of staff in the East Wing following the expected departure of Susan Sher. Tchen personally raised more than $200,000 for the Obama presidential campaign while a lawyer at white-shoe Skadden Arps. (No word on whether Mrs. Obama gave her the same anti-corporate lawyer, fat cat-bashing lecture she delivered on the campaign trail.)

Now, stick with me here as we diagram another Chicago shuffle. As usual, all roads lead to the Daley political machine: