We live in a monstrous time, with evil lying in wait to pounce upon the innocent and the unwary. The size and scope of the expressions of such evil, as at the massacre of dozens of men and women at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on Sunday night, overwhelms the ability of the language to describe it.
Such is the evil that equally evil men in a place on the other side of the globe are eager to take “credit” for the massacre, even though it is unlikely they had anything to do with inspiring one Stephen Paddock, 64, a nondescript son of a bank robber and penny-ante gambler, to take out his psychopathic frustrations on the world. The radical Muslims of ISIS, which purport to be the Islamic State, say that Stephen Paddock was one of their own. The FBI says the early evidence suggests that is unlikely.
Paddock turned one of his guns on himself as law-enforcement officers were about to break down the door of his room on the 32nd floor of the hotel, thus preventing us from knowing exactly what drove him to what President Trump rightly calls “pure evil.”
This leaves the rest of us stunned, bewildered and silenced in disbelief. But only most of us. Several prominent Democratic politicians have no time to share the grief of the rest of us, leaping to heap blame lest such an opportunity go to waste.
Hillary Clinton interrupted her tour to sell her book blaming everyone in sight for the ruin of her second campaign for president, blaming the National Rifle Association. Such grief as we can muster “is not enough,” she says, and “we can and must put politics aside to stand up to the NRA and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders sprayed a Twitter to his followers that it was “long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety.”
Other Democratic voices mocked the very prayers of grieving Americans. “The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with legislative indifference,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and in the coarse spirit of a vulgar age demanded that “Congress get off its ass and do something.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said “tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times,” without identifying just how many times might be appropriate. (We think none.) “We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence.”
Rep. Seth Moulton, also of Massachusetts, declined to stand with his colleagues and uses the all-capital letters of the season to say that “I will not be joining my colleagues in a moment of silence on the House floor that just becomes an excuse for inaction.”
The harsh and insensitive language on the left stands in sharp contrast to the consoling words of President Trump, who was, as the Huffington Post grudgingly described him, solemn and “presidential” (though observing with a certain snark that, like several presidents including Barack Obama before him, he read his message from a teleprompter.)
“Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one,” the president said, after leading his staff to the Rose Garden on the beautiful October afternoon, “a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.”
He cited the 34th Psalm to say that “the Scripture teaches us, ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.”
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