Steve Scalise is the GOP Congressman from Louisiana's first district. He was shot this morning along with four others in a barrage from the shotgun of a 66-year-old white man from Belleville, Ill., which is a suburb of St. Louis. Fifty shots may have been fired. The man was said to be double-tapping the trigger of his large gauge shotgun. This took place at 7:09 AM today -- Wednesday -- in Alexandria, VA, which is just across the Potomac from DC.


Both Democratic and Republican teams were practicing. There are no details yet about the shooter. But Mr. Trump has already begun to speak, though mildly thus far.

But hopes that this might escape the glare of political scrutiny are vanishing as we speak. The comments on the Times story I am embedding below include an appeal for proportionality, noting the prevalence of gun violence and our tendency to be selective in ranking or even noticing victims.


We are endowed with a capacity for empathy that allows us to respond to any hurt and harm whenever we are aware of it. We also have minds that range over the entire world and absorb information from everywhere. This capacity enables us to consider not merely Steve Scalise, the Majority Whip, (a real Frank Underwood figure) crawling under fire as the ballfield where he was practicing was strafed.

We can also reflect on hurtful depredations all around us and their many causes.

The catalog of harm

Harm should in my view be based on an apolitical standard which evaluates all injury and hurt on a common scale of reality. A one-to-ten scale works to measure intensity. We cannot say how many died in a morning from car crashes or shootings or lack of medical insurance.

We can derive from even cursory thinking a sense of general truth.

But violence seems to spread

Our reaction to this morning's shooting may well be to wonder if the Trump environment was a contributing factor. People will line up on either side of a predictable divide. Those who are anti-Trump will say that incidents like today's may well be expressions of discontent with the GOP Congress whose most recent acts have included passage of a health bill many regard as cruel.

Unquestionably such side-taking will be of concern to law enforcement.

The Trump base

It is questionable whether the Trump base will be emboldened by this morning's events. Recent signs point to a decline in Trump's most vocal and committed support group. This is a daily concern of a president whose overall strength seems destined to be less than 50 percent, just as his popular vote was.