People Are Already Politicizing the Boston Lockdown

You knew it was coming ...


Image Credit: Chuck Hagel via Flickr

After the initial attacks at the Boston Marathon, there didn’t seem to be an easy way for politicians to show how the events proved their position in an existing debate without a better understanding of the attackers’ methods, affiliations, and motivations. But with the added violence Thursday night and early Friday morning as well as a clearer understanding of the suspected perpetrators, our elected leaders are back in action!

Take Arkansas state Rep. Nate Bell, who tweeted this morning:

The answer: definitely less than 100 percent of them, because Bell’s tweet went viral, with “Boston liberals” pointing out that this suspect had managed to elude or injure many, many highly armed police officers through the night (with guns of unknown provenance of his own).

He wasn’t alone, though. Fox News’s Katie Pavlich offered her own take:

“Oh, the guy who bombed Boston is on the loose in my neighborhood? Super glad I don’t have an AR-15 with 30 round mags” Said nobody, ever.

— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) April 19, 2013

The crowd of angry Bostonians didn’t manage to convince Bell that he’d said something wrong, just that he’d said it a bit prematurely. He offered an apology (of sorts) via Facebok:

As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.

And lest you think a political tweet need touch on gun rights to attract opprobrium, may we offer South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had this to say:

Or as The Atlantic’s David Graham summarized: “Shorter Lindsey Graham: Constitution? What Constitution?” Graham (of the Atlantic) notes that the Senator isn’t forging new ground, exactly. He’s expressed similar opinions before. But given how little is known, or even suspected, about the overseas affiliations of the two suspects, others aren’t so sure it’s time to throw out the Miranda rights just yet. Even so, Graham seems to have gotten his way as U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the suspect wasn’t read his Miranda Rights when taken into custody because of a national security exemption. Expect to hear more about this in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in Washington, both sides saw opportunity to use Boston to point out the flaws in our immigration system. For background, CBS News reports that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came to the United States in 2002 on a tourist visa. He gained asylum, meaning he had a well-founded fear of persecution in his home country. Since then, he’s become an American citizen.

Enter Congress. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa began a Senate hearing Friday by saying, “We also appreciate the opportunity to talk about immigration, particularly in light of all that’s happening in Massachusetts right now and over the last week.”

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York criticized Grassley, saying, “Before I get to the bill, I’d like to ask that all of us not jump to conclusions regarding the events in Boston or try to conflate those events with this legislation,” before going ahead and adding that the immigration bill posed by the “gang of eight” would make the country safer.

So you see,  Democrats and Republicans agree. When it comes to immigration, the Boston attackers show us something. Perhaps when we track down the second suspect, we can figure out just what. Politics! Did you miss it?