On the day after a leftist attempted to assassinate House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attacked President Trump and Republicans for supposedly creating the hostile political environment that led to the attack. Scalise went into surgery again on Thursday, having received life-threatening wounds to his hip and internal organs. Four others, including two Capitol Hill police officers who were guarding Scalise, were also seriously wounded.
Shooter James T. Hodgkinson was shot and killed by the officers who returned fire with their service pistols. Hodgkinson was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and fired approximately 40 times. He was a volunteer in the presidential campaign of leftist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and had expressed violent opposition to Trump and Republicans.
When a reporter asked Pelosi on Thursday whether she believes that the political left is equally afflicted with violent behavior as the right has been accused, she quickly answered, “No, I don’t.” She then proceeded to blame Trump and Republicans. She said, “It didn’t used to be this way. Somewhere in the 90’s, Republicans decided on a politics of personal destruction as they went after the Clinton’s…and that is what has continued.”
Aiming at Trump, Pelosi said, “When the President says ‘I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and nobody would care’, when you have somebody say ‘beat them up and I’ll pay their legal fees’, when you have all the assaults that are made in Hillary Clinton, for them to be so sanctimonious is something that I really am almost sad that I had to go down this path with you because I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to have the fullest discussion of it. It will be for another day.”
Pelosi was asked whether the shooting incident could be used against the Democratic Party and Democrats because some conservative had suggested "vitriolic rhetoric from the left being in some way to blame." She answered, "I think that the comments made by my Republican colleagues are outrageous, beneath the dignity of the job that they hold, beneath the dignity of the respect that we would like Congress to command. How dare they say such thing? How dare they?
“Well I won't even go into the whole thing. I can't even begin, probably as we sit here, they're running caricatures of me in Georgia once again, earned over a hundred million dollars of vitriolic things that they say, that resulted in calls to my home constantly, threats in front of my grandchildren.
“Really, predicated on their comments and their paid ads. So this sick individual does something despicable and it was horrible what he did, hateful. But for them to all of a sudden be sanctimonious as if, they don't, never seen such a thing before. And I don't even want to go into the President of the United States. But in terms of some of the language that he has used."
Pelosi may have been referring to comments such as those made by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) in the hours after the shooting on Wednesday:
“This is a result, I believe, of political, rhetorical terrorism. That’s got to stop. . . . This political rhetoric and political discourse that has led to hate, has led to gunfire, this has got to stop and it’s got to stop today. I’m not going to assess who takes responsibility, but we’re all responsible for the discourse that happens in American government. . . . We’ve got to ratchet down the rhetoric that we’ve seen. We have to bind together as Americans. Not as Republicans and Democrats.”
Besides vowing to carry a pistol from now on, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said in an interview with WBEN radio news that day: “I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. . . . The rhetoric has been outrageous . . . the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters.”
On Salon, contributor Chauncey DeVega gave a response to the Republicans that typified leftists and Trump’s critics. In an article titled, “Republican reaction to Alexandria shootings: Massive hypocrisy and loose talk of ‘terrorism, ’” DeVega wrote: “President Trump is a plutocratic authoritarian whose leadership style and personal brand are centered upon violent, predatory masculinity. Such behavior by a president helps set the mood for a nation.”
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) told Melissa Francis of Fox News that the media bears part of the blame for the environment that produced the shooter who sought to kill at the Alexandria VA baseball field on Wednesday. When he was asked whether the environment of hateful rhetoric can be blamed on the media, Bergman responded, "I think the media is complicit if they keep inciting as opposed to informing." Francis followed up and asked whether the media should not report hate filled rhetoric. Bergman answered, "No, that's not what I said. I just think you need to make sure that you think twice about how your words, inflections, and phrases are going to affect all the people who might see it."