Wow. I suppose I could have inferred from the shots fired — and by reports of Oscar Ortega-Hernandez’ statements to the effect that he hates Barack Obama — that his intent was to assassinate, but I still feel a little shaken to read the words. The Associated Press reports:
A man charged with firing two shots at the White House last week has been charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama or his staff.
Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez will be taken back from a federal court in Pittsburgh to face the charges in Washington, D.C.
Ortega will remain in federal custody at least until a magistrate in Washington can determine if he should remain jailed until his trial on the charge, which carries up to life in prison.
The 21-year-old Ortega said only, “Yes, ma’am” when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charges.
Somehow, this serves to remind me that, as important as our ideological differences are, as much as it is worth it to fight for certain principles, politics should never be a matter of life and death. If Gabby Giffords’ heroic recovery story has taught us anything, it is that the vast majority of us are bound by the fierce will to live, to survive whatever obstacles life presents us and, yes, to thrive. Liberals and conservatives clearly have different ideas about what leads to human flourishing, but we all agree that human flourishing is a good, and we also primarily have similar definitions of what it looks like — health, happiness and meaning, largely in relationships. However much most conservatives despise the policies of the president, they certainly do not begrudge him his happy marriage and family. And while we might scoff at his ill-timed and outlandish birthday party, we don’t resent his desire to celebrate life.
Please permit me to sugget it: Now and always, prayers for the president — and for the mentally deranged man to face charges in D.C. — are a wise idea. However, the prayers I’m suggesting would not necessarily be along the lines of this … One Occupy San Diego protester called for a moment of silence on behalf of Ortega. It seemed less a prayer for someone who is clearly ill to heal than some kind of expression of solidarity. Once again, the media double standard I mentioned yesterday applies.