In the early morning of June 14, 2017, several Congress members who would be participating in a Congressional Baseball Game the following day met up at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va., just across the Potomac River, to get in one last practice.
What none of the 20 or so congressional staffers in attendance knew is that on this morning, a distraught James T. Hodgkinson, an unemployed 66-year-old Illinois man who was upset with the politics of President Donald Trump and his Republican constituents, was hunkered down behind the third-base dugout. Hodgkinson opened fire, hitting several folks, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was struck in the hip.
Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who were part of Scalise’s security detail, rushed onto the field and began returning fire. According to all accounts, they prevented more lives from being lost. They held off the shooter until Alexandria police arrived. Bailey, a black man, was shot, and Griner, a black lesbian, took a bullet in the ankle. She and Scalise were taken to the hospital.
Scalise would take almost three months to recover. Last month a battered but not beaten Scalise returned to deliver an emotional speech on the House floor. He was using a walker; his femur was still shattered, and his hip and pelvis still damaged. He joked that the doctors had done a good job putting Humpty Dumpty back together. He talked about getting shot and lying out on the ball field and how he began praying to God. He noted that had it not been for Bailey’s and Griner’s bravery that day, Scalise as well as many others might not be here today. He claimed that the officers were part of his family.
This is the part of the movie where the curmudgeonly Republican who once billed himself as “David Duke without the baggage” would see the error of his ways. The part of the movie where he’s visited by the Ghost of Death and shown what he might have missed out on had the very people he’s been rallying against not been there to save his life. A softening of his heart would occur, and we’d be proud to witness the shedding of his old ways.
Well, this ain’t the movies, and for all of Scalise’s emotional bullshit, an asshole took a bullet and almost died, but he’s still an asshole. Not only has Scalise confirmed that he’s willing to hobble toward his asshole agenda—no less than a few days after making his return back to Congress—but he’s already stirring up controversial news.
One would think that after being shot and hearing the horrific news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the 52-year-old House majority whip would, at the least, have a slight move on gun control. Wouldn’t he? Well, one would be wrong.
“Our Founding Fathers believed strongly in gun rights for citizens,” Scalise said during a recent appearance on Meet the Press.
“Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems. They only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun,” he said.
When asked if he believed that the right to bear arms was “unlimited,” Scalise said, “It is, it is.”
Scalise spent at least a month in the hospital undergoing several surgeries to repair his hip and pelvis. He fought off an infection and has undergone hours of rehabilitation just to be able to walk again. Surely this extensive hospital stay would, at the very least, move his needle toward supporting affordable health care, and maybe even toward single-payer, government-provided health insurance, after he realized that his life was spared because he had access to some of the best medical care in the country.
Fuck no. Scalise is the kind of asshole who has been spared only so he can serve as a mouthpiece against all the things that helped save him. The Hollywood version was too perfect, so instead, this staunch, bigoted Republican who had spent his time in Congress bashing gay rights and was saved by a black lesbian, and then spent months in the hospital receiving the best care money can provide, made a miraculous recovery so that he could limp back into Congress and continue being an asshole.
As the Washington Blade reported, “Scalise has built over the course [of] his tenure in Congress since 2008 among the most anti-LGBT reputations of any lawmaker.” And nothing has changed since he’s been on the mend. The Blade further detailed Scalise’s record before the shooting:
Earning a “0” on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard, Scalise voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and hate crimes protection legislation. In the last Congress, Scalise was among the 130 co-sponsors of the First Amendment Defense Act, a federal “religious freedom” bill seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.
As a member of House Republican leadership, he’s responsible for the lack of votes on pro-LGBT legislation on the House floor. When Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment upholding President Obama’s 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, Scalise was reportedly among House leaders who convinced seven Republicans to switch their votes to ensure the measure would fail.
When a federal judge upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage as constitutional in 2014, Scalise hailed the decision during an appearance on the anti-LGBT Family Research Council’s radio program as “an important win for marriage.”
Since being saved by a lesbian, Scalise has reassured believers in traditional heterosexual marriage they they have nothing to fear—he still hates gay marriage with the same passion he had before the shooting. He will speak this Friday at the Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council, a group of conservatives whom the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
At this point I’m starting to believe that there is no perfect victim, even when the victim is a congressman with the ability to effect change on a judicial level. I’m starting to believe that the deaths of more than 50 innocent people at the hands of a radicalized, American-born and -bred terrorist won’t be enough to move the ball forward. Currently, the debate is not over toughening gun laws or restricting the production of guns; it isn’t even a debate over gun restrictions. The current argument isn’t centered on making semi-automatic weapons inaccessible to citizens; it’s on bump stocks—a device that can make a semi-automatic weapon fire like a machine gun.
“They want, somehow, some transformational event to happen that’s going to convert somebody’s political viewpoints,” Scalise said in an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Yes, Scalise, we do. Or, if nothing else, we want the tragedy, the personal tragedy of gun violence that almost killed you, to affect you. We want your cold heart to soften around bigoted views. We want you to be ... human. At this point, it’s the least you could do.