On a sad day for our country, one small piece of unterrible news is that Thursday night’s Congressional Baseball Game is still on.
Wednesday’s act of violence was an act of terrorism, really, against Republican members of Congress at an early-morning practice where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others were shot and the gunman was fatally wounded. It should not, must not stop our elected representatives from coming together for a bipartisan charity event that’s the perfect symbolic antidote to the meanness and polarization of the moment.
President Donald Trump; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate for whom the shooter reportedly volunteered; Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California all addressed their colleagues in just this spirit on Wednesday.
Before we go off to our usual corners to disagree on what should happen now, let’s just stand with them quietly for a minute, in solidarity and recognition that, as Ryan said, “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
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The speaker mentioned that Scalise “is likely really frustrated that he’s not going to be able to play in the baseball game.” In his honor, and that of the others who were wounded — lobbyist Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey, Special Agent Crystal Griner and Zack Barth, a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams — we hope that other political leaders in both parties, including the president and his former rival Hillary Clinton, will consider attending the game, too.
The event, like many other Capitol Hill traditions, is a throwback, maybe not to a time of greater national comity, but to a time when there was still such a thing as putting politics aside. President Barack Obama attended the game two years ago, and it would be great to see Trump at Nationals Park on Thursday night, cheering for the Republicans but also for the fact that, as Pelosi said, “We will use this occasion as one that brings us together.”
“We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers,” Scalise’s office said. Those who mocked this simple request are wrong, period.
Both Pelosi and Ryan were naturally and rightly emotional — human — in their remarks on the House floor after the attack, and two things in particular that Pelosi said resonated. First, this: “You’re going to hear me say something I’ve never said before. I identify myself with the remarks of the speaker.” And this: “You may not know this, my colleagues, but every time I pray … I pray for all of you. I pray for Donald Trump, that his presidency will be successful and that his family will be safe.”
All we have to add to that is, amen.