POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/10

Hutchison Approval Suggests She’s Vulnerable

A new Blum and Weprin Associates poll in Texas finds Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has seen her approval stall at 46% of registered voters – effectively unchanged from last February before she lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Rick Perry.

However, with only 56% of Republicans approving of her, Hutchison could be vulnerable if she seeks re-election to the Senate in 2012.

Said Mickey Blum: “You could expect more Republicans to approve of a senator from their party. Part of the problem she had in the primary against Perry was that she really didn’t have a strong base that was going to come out for her. And she could have that problem again.”

Quote of the Day

“The ubiquitous nature of the Internet means that not only threats but also hate speech and other inciteful speech is much more readily available to individuals than quite clearly it was 8 or 10 or 15 years ago. That absolutely presents a challenge for us, particularly when it results in what would be lone wolves or lone offenders undertaking attacks.”

— FBI Director Robert Mueller, quoted by the New York Times.

Two Lawmakers Say They’ll Be Armed

Several lawmakers are already changing their security arrangements in wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and at least two lawmakers say they’ll now be packing firearms in public when they’re in their home districts. Both Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) told Politico they will be carrying their guns in their home districts for protection. Both lawmakers hold a conceal and carry permit, but will not carry their weapons in the District of Columbia.

Bullseyes vs. Crosshairs

“With a long list of enemies, a taste for incendiary rhetoric and responsibility for a campaign website graphic that placed gunsight logos on a map of targeted congressional districts, it didn’t take long for Sarah Palin to get pulled into the orbit of Saturday’s massacre in Tucson,” Politico reports.

John Gruber: “Much attention is now being paid to the gunsight crosshair imagery Sarah Palin used to target 20 congresspeople last year, including Gabrielle Giffords. Some of those defending Palin are pointing to this image from the Democratic Leadership Council after the 2004 election. It uses a bull’s-eye to mark “target” states in the then-next presidential election. In a nation like ours, with its history of political assassinations by gun violence, I don’t like that imagery, either. But there are some significant differences.

Tommy Christopher: “A bullseye is commonly associated with target practice, and as such, the bullseye itself is the inert, nonliving target. Crosshairs, on the other hand, represent the mechanism by which a target is acquired and killed. It is also an image that resonates in popular culture through countless repetitions, in films and television shows, of the assassin’s POV shot. That the intent was to evoke something like a bullseye (only way tougher), and not the spectre of assassination, is an obvious, yet moot, point. Once that reasonable objection was raised, the image should have been abandoned.”

Quote of the Day

“It’s not a wake-up call, it’s a four-alarmer,”

— Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), quoted by the Washington Post, saying he’ll introduce legislation “that would make it a federal crime to use language or images that could be interpreted as inciting violence toward members of Congress or federal officials.”

Palin Staffer Insists Crosshair Graphic Wasn’t About Guns

A Sarah Palin staffer insisted in a radio interview that their use of a crosshair graphic on a midterm election “target list” — that included the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) — was not intended to allude to guns, Alaska Dispatch reports.

Said Rebecca Mansour: “We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights,” explaining “It’s surveyor’s symbols.”

However, Palin’s own tweet just after the election was unambiguous: “Remember months ago ‘bullseye’ icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)”

Flashback of the Day

“I mean, this is a situation where — I mean, people don’t — they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

— Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), in a MSNBC interview earlier this year.

Heroism in Tucson

The Arizona Republic highlights the heroic actions of Daniel Hernandez, a new intern for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who ran towards the gunfire in yesterday’s shooting and likely saved lives, including that of the congresswoman.

“When the shots began that morning, he saw many people lying on the ground, including a young girl. Some were bleeding. Hernandez said he moved from person to person checking pulses… Then he saw Giffords. She had fallen and was lying contorted on the sidewalk. She was bleeding. Using his hand, Hernandez applied pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap, holding her upright against him so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood.”

“He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived. They strapped her to a board and loaded her into an ambulance. Hernandez climbed in with her. On the ride to the hospital, he held her hand. She squeezed his back.”

Shooting Renews Gun Control Debate

Politico reports that the Arizona shooting that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) critically injured and a federal judge and others dead has revived debate on Capitol Hill over gun control. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was killed in a 1993 shooting, is readying gun-control legislation and will introduce a bill “as soon as Monday.”

“Gun control activists cried it was time to reform weapons laws in the United States, almost immediately after a gunman killed six and injured 14 more, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona on Saturday. Many said that people with a history of mentally instability, like the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, should not be able to buy a gun — and no one should be able to buy stockpiles of ammunition.”

“Loughner legally purchased his weapon – a Glock 19 with an extended magazine – from an Arizona store.”

Is Arizona Shooting About Politics or Mental Illness?

Jeffrey Goldberg: “One thought that occurred to me, as I was watching some of the presumptuous commentary: Imagine if the Ft. Hood shooting had been covered the same way as the Giffords shooting? During Ft. Hood, commentators and politicians were falling over themselves to preemptively announce that Nidal Hasan’s religious faith had nothing to do with the shooting. In the Arizona case, people are falling over themselves to announce that this has everything to do with the Tea Party. I don’t necessarily disagree with those people who tried to distance Nidal Hasan’s actions from the broader discussion about anti-American Islamist violence — he is a deranged person who acted alone, after all — but it seems presumptuous to draw too many conclusions about the alleged actions of Jared Loughner and what they mean about politics in this country.”

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