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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 7:06 am | Fair 52º


Susan Estrich: Here We Go Again

Let's see: Whom can we blame?

First of all, let us all agree that we stand together against violence, whoever the target; that it doesn't matter what party you are. The gunman is responsible for this atrocity, and we are united in condemning him.

Are we done agreeing now? Can we talk? Isn't everyone already talking?

The gunman reportedly supported Bernie Sanders. So blame the left. Sanders. Hillary Clinton. All the people out there who don't just disagree with the president but demean him, spew hate.

Hey, wait a minute. Want to talk about spewing hate? Who started this?

Who got inaugurated and didn't even pause before he started calling people names? Talk about demeaning. Talk about raising the temperature of political debate. Talk about surrounding yourself with people who advance by winning and win by fighting and see compromise as the work of swamp-dwellers.

The tweeter in chief is hardly the mouthpiece of compromise and cooperation.

Wait a minute. James Hodgkinson took a gun and shot at Republicans. Maybe he saw the photo of Kathy Griffin holding a fake Donald Trump head and was inspired. Or maybe it was the Public Theater production of "Julius Caesar" that inspired him.

It doesn't matter if you didn't see actually see the production; you can blame them anyway.

Ah, but how did he have that gun?

When I used to be on the radio and it was a lazy Sunday with not many folks calling in, I knew I could always rely on that old faithful segment: "Gun Owners, Pull Over."

And I would begin my eminently reasonable rant about how you wouldn't drive without a license and you can't get a license without both a written test and a road test, and you have to keep getting it renewed, and have your vision checked — and all that to operate a vehicle, the primary purpose of which is transportation, not killing.

Excuse me, I mean "protection."

I was set for the afternoon.

Here is my prediction. Consider me a cynic, but this is not the moment that will bring us together. I'm as guilty as the next. We are too far gone.

This is not the moment that will make me forget my horror that the attorney general of the United States responded to the FBI director's statement that he did not want to be alone with the president by asking no further questions, investigating nothing, hearing nothing, offering nothing.

Jeff Sessions focused on himself, on simply trying to stay alive another day in the wild world of Donald Trump, figuring Comey could figure out something to do on his own. And Comey did, evoking aspects of "Deep Throat," the Watergate FBI leaker whose identity took decades to ferret out.

The leaker of Comey's documents had to be Comey himself, and this is what Comey had to do to get a special counsel appointed — because Sessions, who had always stood up for integrity in his years in the Senate, was in no position to protect him.

Sessions had to go along with firing Comey, because if he recused himself again — which apparently infuriated the president the first time — who knows what would have been Sessions' fate.

But to pretend like any of us would really believe that James Comey was fired for mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails?

Mishandle the Clinton investigation he did, and it was enough (though we can blame many factors, as is always true in a close election) to elect the Wizard of Trump. But that is not why he was fired.

How dumb do they think we are?

So, thank God it wasn't worse today. I say that a lot lately. Thank God London wasn't worse. Thank God Manchester wasn't worse. But if you are one of those who lost a loved one, it could not have been worse. What a terrible way to live.

Days like today should bring us together, but you need leaders who see it as their role and their destiny to do so.

I will never forget President Ronald Reagan's stirring words on the day of the Challenger disaster. He set the bar high. Sadly, no one is even aiming for it.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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