Representative Steve Scalise and four others were shot early Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. While Scalise is in stable condition, two others are critically wounded, according to police. President Donald Trump announced to the nation that the shooter, 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, had died after a shootout with Scalise’s protective detail.
“Everyone on that field is a public servant—our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people,” Trump said. “We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and piece, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan drew a bipartisan standing ovation with rousing remarks about how he and his colleagues stood united in the face of violence. “An attack on one of us,” he said, “is an attack on all of us.”
But other Republicans have pounced on the fact that Hodgkinson volunteered on Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign last year.
“It’s part of a pattern,” Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and a Trump loyalist, said on Fox News. “An increasing intensity of hostility on the left.” He cited comedian Kathy Griffin’s unfunny Trump-decapitation video and a recent staging in New York City of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which a Trump-like Caesar is slain. “The intensity is very real, whether it’s a so-called comedian holding up the president’s head covered in blood, or right here in New York City, a play that shows the president being assassinated, or it’s Democratic leading national politicians using vulgarity because they can’t find any common language to talk.”
“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric,” Representative Chris Collins of New York said on WBEN radio. “The rhetoric has been outrageous – the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires.”
Right-wing commentators, meanwhile, have accused the mainstream media of eliding Hodgkinson’s apparent political sympathies.
Senator Bernie Sanders, by unfortunate political necessaity, took to the Senate floor to condemn the alleged shooter. “I am sickened by this despicable act,” he said, “and let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this actions in the strongest possible terms.”
Ryan and Pelosi confirmed that Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game for charity is still on—though presumably with heightened security.