Republican Greg Gianforte won a special election Thursday against Democrat Rob Quist for a seat that had been held by Republican Ryan Zinke, who vacated his post to take over as Secretary of the Interior.
Under most circumstances, this would be newsworthy but no big deal. Certainly nothing that would generate massive national attention beyond the usual political types.
But Gianforte’s actions on the eve of the election turned this into something much bigger than anybody could have imagined.
After being asked a question he did not like by the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs – somebody with whom I don’t always agree but an excellent reporter nonetheless – Gianforte responded by slamming Jacobs and breaking his glasses.
I understand that when you are in the heat of a political race and you are being badgered by reporters asking you tough questions, the pressure can get to you. Gianforte isn’t the first, and he probably won’t be the last.
But it is one thing to let the pressure get to you and a completely different issue entirely when losing your cool leads to you committing an act of violence. That is never okay, least of all for somebody who wants to sit in the U.S. Congress.
That is why even though I tend to agree with Gianforte on issues more than I do Quist, I cannot say in good conscience that the election results were positive. Gianforte assaulted somebody – for which he has been charged by the local sheriff – and he has clearly shown he cannot and should not be a member of the House of Representatives.
Personally, while I know it will not happen, I would like to see him resign ASAP. This type of behavior was disgraceful when Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) did it back in 2006 and Rob Etheridge (D-NC) did it in 2010. Those two should have resigned as well, but two wrongs don’t make a right.
If we cannot hold those in public office to the same standards with which everyday Americans are held at their jobs, then really, what is the point? If you are an average American working a regular job, ask yourself this question: If I choked and slammed somebody at my place of employment, would I be fired?
We all know the answer to that question is yes.
Sadly, it is a little different in this case, since the assault occurred before a vote and Gianforte still won. He wasn’t a sitting member of Congress yet, so this would be after the fact. But if Gianforte had any sense of shame, he would resign.
But while Gianforte is THE CULPRIT in this case – there can be no mistake about that – the attempt of many members of the media to tie this to Donald Trump is once again showing their hand.
Just as it was ridiculous for Barack Obama, or anybody else who made sympathetic statements about Black Lives Matter, to be held morally responsible when some of the worst elements of that cause commit a crime against a policeman, Donald Trump bears no responsibility here. Violence at his rallies – much of which was agitated by those who opposed him – does not mean it is somehow the president’s fault when some lunatic running for congress assaults a reporter.
Gianforte is a grown man who is fully in charge of his own actions. His assault of Ben Jacobs is on him and him alone. So stop trying to make this about somebody who had nothing to do with it, and instead focus your ire on the person who deserves it: Greg Gianforte.
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