I’ve been in politics for a long time now, and it takes a lot to get my dander up. You can call me names all day long, attack my politics, make fun of how I look, question my intelligence, and you’ll generally get little more than a chuckle from me. It takes a lot to make me mad. Well, Miles Grant has won one of the rarest awards in Northern Virginia politics. He can actually claim to have honestly pissed me off.
I have railed against using tragedies to push one’s political agenda for a while. From calling out Blue Virginia and Not Larry Sabato for trying to link the West Virginia coal mine disaster to Virginia and Ken Cuccinelli, to those who continue to try and exploit the Virginia Tech tragedy to push a gun control agenda, I have long argued that it is inappropriate and wrong to take a tragic event and spin it in such a way as to gain some kind of political advantage out of it. This isn’t something only Democrats do, and I’m equally critical of Republicans who would use 9/11, the underwear bomber or other tragedies and near tragedies to push an unrelated or semi-related agenda. It’s just wrong.
So when I saw Miles Grant – one of the most prolific of bloggers on Blue Virginia, the author of his own blog, and a communications professional with a major environmental group here in DC – making multiple tweets about the tragedy in Arizona that generally pointed fingers at Republicans and our policy positions, I called him out on it.
And he proceeded to call me a “dick,” claim I was just repeating cliches, and to “shut up” if I have “nothing important to say.”
I had something important to say, and I said it: it’s high time that Miles Grant stop trying to exploit major tragedies for political gain, like he did the Gulf Oil Spill. It’s high time that everyone – Republican and Democrat – stop trying to exploit major tragedies for political gain. There is no excuse for anyone turning these kinds of events into springboards for policy or political changes. We are still just learning all of the facts about what happened in Arizona, learning about all of the victims, and mourning those we have lost and those we have almost lost. The time for determining what should change because of this is far into the future. Now is not that time.
Unless you’re Miles Grant, whose behavior seems to demonstrate his agreement with Rahm Emmanuel that no crisis should ever go to waste.
Here are a few of Miles’ tweets tonight:
“Much as I want to say I hope some good will come out of Giffords assassination … Gulf oil disaster changed nothing in DC.”
“Boehner’s statement seems hollow given his overheated “Hell no!” speech against #hcr vote that Giffords was vilified for.”
“Remember all those Dems who used violent gun-based rhetoric in the 2010 elections?”
“Why is it legal to make a gun that can shoot up to 18 people without pausing to reload?”
“Are we really supposed to be impressed by all these Republicans, silent in face of calls to violence, now condemning actual violence?#p2”
“Regardless Loughner’s motivation, clearly our national response must be to keep guns cheaper & easier to get than mental health care.”
At that point, I’d had enough. After unfollowing him, I called him out on what he was saying. His response:
“@DeltaXi65 Do you have something to say or are you just poking anyone upset about what happened today? Dick.”
When I told him that my point was that he was using the tragedy to push his agenda, and hadn’t expressed any condolences to the victims and their families, had barely said anything positive all day, and hadn’t even acknowledged that there were other victims, he responded with:
“That’s what I figured. You should really come up with some thoughts of your own some day.”
For the record, my first of the day came around 1:45, when I heard on WTOP that Rep. Giffords had been shot: “Absolutely unbelievable what happened to Congresswoman Giffords. Our prayers go out to her family and the families of staff nembers hurt.”
I’m sick of it. I am sick of the mindless political exploitation of tragedy by people whose concept of compassion is to use tragedy to push a political agenda. Who cannot even bring themselves to even express sadness for what has happened and to call for sympathy and grief for the victims. Who, when called out on their callousness, choose to resort to name calling and deflection rather than pausing and wondering if perhaps maybe they may be wrong. I wish I could say that Grant is the only one out there who has acted this way today, but I know he hasn’t.
Honestly, after having taken the time to write this post out, I don’t think I’m angry at Miles anymore. I more saddened by him, and sad for him. It must be difficult to go through life with no ability to empathize with your fellow man – to only see the political opportunities you can create out of tragedy, rather than seeing the tragedy itself. There were a lot of victims today – many, many more than the handful we know about. I can’t help but want to see them remembered, prayed for and mourned first, letting the harder task of deciding what to do to stop this kind of thing from happening in the future remain for another day.
There is no excuse for the kind of behavior I saw from Miles Grant and others today.