Gabby Giffords with husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelley
Gabrielle Giffords announced on Sunday that she is giving up her seat in Congress in order to concentrate on her recovery from the assassination attempt last year in Arizona. It is a reminder that however miraculous her recovery so far, such violence has enduring consequences. It is a measure of our political decadence that the enormity of this act, and the atmosphere supporting gun violence and violent politics, was not confronted even after this incident that killed a federal judge, a public servant, and a child born on 9-11, among others.
Of Giffords, President Obama said: Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be. She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology – a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union." House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords "a true bright star." It is a phrase worth contemplating--a bright star that points true.
This gun violence, enabled by cowardly politicians and their at best deluded and at worst hate-filled constituents, silenced an exemplary voice in Congress, a voice that this Congress badly needs, and now that silence will continue. But there will be one more opportunity to acknowledge some of this, as well as to honor Giffords, when her last act as a Member of Congress will be to witness President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
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