Like fellow Americans, I share the shock and sadness at the unspeakable killings and woundings in Tucson Saturday. Those emotions remain.
But on Saturday night, the Democrat Sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, Clarence Dupnik, began his update on the senseless crime by ascribing blame to what he termed "the rhetoric of hatred." He was clearly blaming conservative talk radio and television pundits. I knew at that moment his words would ignite a rancorous political discourse that is misplaced at this time, and clearly wrong.
Only moments after making his unfortunate statement laying blame, the sheriff admitted investigators had not determined the motive for the mass shootings.
We know from a much more reasoned FBI Director Mueller the perpetrator was a mentally troubled man, a high school dropout, rejected for enlistment into the armed services, kicked out of a Tucson community college for threatening and erratic behavior, who had a history of drug use, of posting irrational rants on his social websites and who listed his favorite books as Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. A socialist philosophy is espoused in both books, the antithesis of writings and advocatings of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Shawn Hannity, at whose feet Sheriff Dupnik placed blame.
Elected officials like Dupnik do a great disservice to this nation by injecting politics into the tragedy that befell Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the other victims who were killed or badly wounded.
It is Dupnik's words that have no place in our political discourse. The sheriff's abuse of the forum granted him Saturday night by virtue of being the top law enforcement officer in Pima County reminded me of the memorial service for the late Minnesota congressman Paul Wellstone, a democrat who died in a plane crash while campaigning.
The politically partisan rhetoric whipped up by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Wellstone's son was so vitriolic that several Republican members of Congress had to be removed from the service by security personnel who feared for their safety.
The one Democrat who has stood above the partisan crowd is President Obama. His empathetic words on Saturday afternoon set the right tone for all Americans. I may disagree with many of President Obama's policies, but never have I seen him look and act more presidential.
His is the example those in his party, and his supporters, should follow.