We reported on Wednesday about Beto O’Rourke trying to hijack a press conference that Texas officials were giving to people, including parents and families of the victims of the shooting.
There were even reports that Beto had used seat holders to hold a place up front so he could stage his confrontation of the officials on the stage.
.@JanetShamlian reports on Beto O’Rourke confronting Gov. Abbott during presser: "There were two people across the aisle from me and a moment before the press conference started, they got up from their seats when Beto walked in … This seems something very clearly staged." pic.twitter.com/eaAxrZP6Gt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 25, 2022
Now, most would understand that this isn’t the time or the place to stage such a political stunt to promote oneself. But not Beto — and Beto even got called out by one of the audience members as O’Rourke was interrupting the event.
Some on the left praised Beto’s actions, including Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) who tweeted comparing him to the man who stood against the tanks during the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, labeling the comparison “Speaking truth to power.” He later deleted the tweet.
But CNN’s take on the confrontation from Chris Cillizza was a stark window into how they truly think. Abbott was talking about the families.
“There are family members who are crying as we speak, there are family members whose hearts are broken, there is no words that anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts,” said Abbott. “We all, every Texan, every American has the responsibility. We need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas.”
This is, of course, the common response when these events happen. Politicians — usually Republicans — insist that it’s not the time to discuss gun-related public policies after a mass shooting. And that anyone who does so is somehow dishonoring the memories of those who have been lost.
It’s time — actually past time — to put that way of thinking behind us.
My point here, though, is broader than all of that: Don’t let politicians tell you that there’s no place for politics in moments like these. In fact, this is exactly the right moment to talk about politics.
Politics is about momentum. That’s because politicians tend to be a reactive species. They are always wary of going too far out on a limb only to find themselves out of step with the people whose votes they need. The place a politician likes to be is comfortably in the middle of what his or her constituents think.
The reason Republicans think this way is because they’re putting the concerns of the families first, not politics. If you are thinking about politics at this point, you’re doing it wrong. If people being killed is about politics, you’re putting your own political agenda over the people.
“Politics is about momentum.” That says it all. They see the shooting as giving their gun control cause “momentum.” What’s the saying? “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Or in this case a horrible tragedy. They don’t want to take the time to focus on the families or the victims because they want to use the “momentum” of the anger now. It’s hard to get more wrong than that.