Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Absence of Leadership Caused Unfounded Conclusions in Tucson

Why am I writing about the battle over political rhetoric again? Because if conservatives and Republicans allow those on the other side of the political spectrum to continue to define us, we lose. It is as simple as that. It has gone on for decades. The stereotypes uttered about the right are wrong. It is time for us to stand and reject it all. Loudly. Every time it rears its ugly head.

Immediately after the horrific terrorist attack perpetrated by Major Nidal Hussein a Fort Hood, President Obama urged all to use caution and not jump to any conclusions about the shooter or motives. The media bent over backwards to honor that request. Too bad Obama didn't feel the need to repeat that response after the horrific assassination attempt on Rep Gabrielle Giffords in the parking lot of a grocery store in Tucson.

On November 6, 2009, the day after Maj. Nidal Hussein allegedly killed 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas, President Obama made a brief statement to the nation. "This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow service men and women," the president said. "We don't know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts."

The most interesting conclusion jumper is the sheriff of Pima County. He also may be one at whom an accusatory finger can be pointed in this tragedy. As it turns out, the shooter had a history of mental illness issues and was known, certainly to his friends, to be illogically angry at Rep Giffords after a meeting with her in 2007. Yes. 2007. That was before the rise of the Tea Party and of Sarah Palin, both early targets, if you will excuse the word, of the liberals and the press in the finger pointing after this shooting.

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame by going before every possible camera and microphone to blame conservatives, Republicans, talk show hosts, tv personalities and anyone else who is not identified as a liberal Democrat. The sheriff is not at all bashful to say that he is a liberal Democrat and he blames the GOP and political philosophies that will not allow the Democrats policies into place. Not only has his behavior been completely unprofessional and inappropriate, it just very well may result in placing him in an awkward position in this blame game.

It was not political rhetoric that got us here. It was, however, the balls that were dropped along the way in dealing with the shooter before the crime was committed. How big was the sheriff's role in allowing this young disturbed man to fall through the cracks?

A long time public servant, perhaps this is another example of a person serving too long in public life. A veteran of over 50 years in local law enforcement, Clarence W. Dupnik has served as the Sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, since his appointment in February 1980 That's right. This man has been in law enforcement for 50 years. He is well aware of what he is doing. For whatever reason, Dupnik is riding his newly found celebrity of is own making for all it's worth. He is calling out the likes of Rush Limbaugh as a person responsible for the actions of the shooter. He began on the day of the attack and continues today with the media interviews and shows no remorse for blaming innocent people without any form of evidence to back his claims. He says it is just his opinion.

When was the last time you heard of a sheriff putting out his opinion of an open criminal case before the criminal was even brought before a judge for arraignment? And, to add insult to injury, the sheriff blames a group of fellow Americans for this one individual's behavior.

If conservatives and Republicans and talk show hosts and tv personalities are responsible for this mentally ill person, why are there not daily tragedies? Why is there no concrete proof that he is a Tea Party person or a registered Republican, even? Because, so far, the evidence points to the opposite. The guy is a registered Independent and didn't vote in the 2010 elections where the Tea Party voters first voted. He was, in fact, known as a pot smoking liberal by his former professor. Most importantly, he is mentally ill.

The shooter's mother is a Pima County employee. Amy Joanne Loughner, mother of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner, works for Pima County as a manager at Agua Caliente Park. When the red flags began to fly over the shooter before the attack occured, did Sheriff Dupnik look the other way to protect a fellow county employee?

The sheriff brags that he is the only person telling the truth, as he sees it, about what most other Americans are feeling. He justifies his nonsensical conclusions by stating everyone else feels the same way but he is the only one 'brave' enough to say it. Wrong, again. A CBS News poll finds a clear majority of Americans do not see a connection between the shooting and political rhetoric.

Nearly six in 10 Americans say the country's heated political rhetoric is not to blame for the Tucson shooting rampage that left six dead and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to a CBS News poll.

The sheriff should stick to his day job and handle the criminal justice part of this crime. Leave the political commentary to others.

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