06/13/2011 12:15 pm ET | Updated Aug 13, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords: How Quickly We Forget

Somehow I feel that what may prohibit Gabrielle Giffords from returning to Congress is more important than what may prevent Anthony Weiner from remaining there. The Associated Press reports that "U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords struggles to find words and put together sentences," and as a result, may never return to Congress. In case you have forgotten, she was shot in January of this year by Jared Lee Loughner. 19 people were attacked and 6 of them were killed, including a federal judge, John Roll and a 9-year-old child, Christina-Taylor Green. In addition to my shock, anger and grief over the incident, I remember that the media was atwitter with those denying responsibility. The politicians, the conservative TV and radio talking heads, the NRA were jostling each other to reach microphones to declare their innocence and lack of culpability.

Jared Lee Loughner was a nut case and placing Gabrielle Giffords in "the cross hairs," advocating "Second Amendment remedies", threatening that the government was "trying to take away our guns," calling the president of the United States, "the worst president ever," "the most corrupt president ever," "a Communist," "a Socialist," "a Nazi," a non-citizen; an illegal president, that death panels under health care would determine who lived and died, vile protests at funerals (even threatened at the funeral of Christina) -- none of that mattered. The fact that the shooter used a 9mm Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round magazine (purchased at a store 6 weeks earlier) was not relevant; guns were not at fault. Apparently he could have done the same thing with a bow and arrow or a pocket knife in the same few minutes.

I do not suggest that any of the above caused this horrific crime, but the atmosphere sure did not help. If it did not motivate this shooting in particular, it is likely to do so in the future. After the incident, everyone rushed forward, particularly those denying their guilt, to promise to tone down the rhetoric. Promises were made to pass legislation prohibiting the sale of high capacity magazines and carrying firearms near certain federal officials. What has actually changed? Nothing! All those who sought to exculpate themselves from the Tucson shootings, continue to do the same. Hate and fear, lies and exaggerations rule the day. Promises to change the rhetoric are as empty as those that promise to address climate change, reliance on foreign oil, our immigration policy, participation in foreign wars, improve our educational system and enact economic regulation that will prevent a recurrence of the current crisis. The political and media focus continues to be on election and re-election, while the critical issues that face the country languish. We owe something to Gabrielle Giffords. Recent photos demonstrate her strength and courage on the road to recovery. Her photo album certainly deserves more attention than that of Anthony Weiner.