Texas politician acts dishonourably, then tries to profit | Comment
Sometimes politicians act in a way that misrepresents their judgment and character and dishonors the cause they seek to advance.
Such was Robert Francis O’Rourke’s stunt on May 25, the day after 19 students and two teachers died at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. About 15 minutes after state and local officials began a news conference to brief the press on the shooting investigation, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate walked into the high school auditorium, s slid into a seat near the front that had been held by a supporter, and waited for his close-up.
When Governor Greg Abbott finished his briefing and turned to other leaders for comment, Mr. O’Rourke stood up, walked to center stage and confronted the governor, pointing his finger and saying:
“You do nothing.” As Mr Abbott sat grimly, not making eye contact, others on the stage angrily denounced Mr O’Rourke. As the officers escorted him from the room, he turned to wave his finger at the governor and declare grandly, “It’s on you.” He then staged an impromptu media scrum in the parking lot.
Back inside, Mr. Abbott called for unity: “There are family members whose hearts are broken. There are no words to say that someone who screams can come here and do anything to heal these broken hearts.
Around the same time, Mr O’Rourke’s campaign emailed his supporters saying he had phoned his wife after hearing about the attack and that his children “appear to be expecting to school shootings like this. Mr O’Rourke wrote that ‘our broken hearts are with Uvalde’, thanked first responders, then blamed the shooting on the Governor, saying ‘these massacres’ were ‘direct consequences of choices made by Greg Abbott’ and the Texas Legislature and were “totally predictable.”
On May 28, Mr. O’Rourke used the mass shooting as the subject of fundraising emails asking for a $3 contribution to the campaign to “keep standing up, keep organizing and keep standing up.” to beat”. More such email appeals followed on May 29, May 31, June 1 and June 2, each using the tragedy to canvass new donors and solicit campaign funds.
Politicians often try to take advantage of events to further their ambitions, but prospect for new campaign contributors – only $3! – the killing of children was superficial and classless, even by Mr. O’Rourke’s low standards. And to say that the shooting was “totally predictable” is wrong. If this was foreseeable, why didn’t Mr. O’Rourke call 911 before it happened?
Mr. O’Rourke calculated that gun confiscation was a winning issue when he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. His campaign died out. But he described his stance as a profile of courage: “I know saying it’s the right thing to do, and the consequences, whatever they are.”
But he decided that “the right thing to do” when running for president in 2019 was the wrong thing when running for governor of Texas in 2022. Lagging in the polls, Mr O’Rourke said to conservative East Texas reporters in February that he was ‘t “interested in taking anything from anyone”. Instead, he said, “what I want to make sure we do is stand up for the Second Amendment.” After Uvalde, he reverted to his earlier opinion on the seizure of firearms. His views on the Second Amendment are apparently tied to his current political ambitions.