To most of the U.S., the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, was a horrific tragedy.
But to at least one of Scalise’s colleagues, the shooting that nearly cost the congressman his life was little more than an opportunity to gain political points.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has turned the audio of the shooting into part of a political ad that emphasizes that lawmakers support for gun rights.
Regardless of how one feels about the issue of guns, most observers can agree that using such a terrifying event as the backdrop of a political ad is in poor taste.
Even Scalise’s office seemed to agree. A spokesman for the Louisiana congressman said, “Some people have different ideas about what’s appropriate.”
The ad plays the sound of the gunshots. Then, it shows Brooks addressing the media after Scalise and others were shot and the gunman had been killed by police. “Second Amendment right to bear arms is to help ensure we always have a republic,” he said.
Brooks is in the midst of a campaign for Senate, where he is vying for the Republican spot on the ballot.
While it makes sense for Brooks to court the conservative voters of Alabama’s Republican Party, it is thoroughly distasteful for him to use the attack for political gain.
And there are much more effective and less objectionable ways to make the same political argument without trying to capitalize on other people’s misery.
Brooks is more than welcome to appeal to his constituents in any way he sees fit.
But he shouldn’t be surprised if Alabama’s voters find his use of this tragedy inappropriate — even for a political campaign.
It is an unfortunate fact of modern political life that we have lost any sense of decorum. Now, it seems, all is fair in the political realm.
But the voters don’t want that. Even the politicians themselves, if they are honest with themselves, have to find our shift toward the callous in bad taste.
We have grown used to partisan attacks that focus on candidates’ shortcomings rather than informative advertising about candidates’ skills and qualifications. So perhaps we are numb to the question of taste when it comes to political ads.
This case, though, should be a wake-up call. There are still things that lie squarely outside of what we should tolerate from those who are seeking our votes.
Let’s hope Alabama’s voters can see this maneuver for what it is.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.