by Mark Scheinbaum
Angel Fire, N.M.
January 8, 2011
TONE OF CIVIL DEBATE HAD A ROLE, SHERIFF SAYS
ANGEL FIRE, N.M., Jan. 10, 2011 -- You don't get elected to Congress as a 40-year-old female Democrat in Tucson, Ariz., unless you're prepared to fight for what you believe in and ready to engage in the hard-nosed give-and-take of the highly partisan House of Representatives of 2011.
A successful survivor of lesser wars in terms in the state assembly and state senator, Rep. Danielle Giffords is tough - and that's maybe why she's alive after a madman's bullet was fired through her brain. She was shot in the Sierra Vista neighborhood of Tucson as she brought her fight and a warm, caring personality to her constituents at a shopping center supermarket Saturday morning. A creep named Jared Lee Loughner brought that to an end. But it's our guess that Rep. Giffords will rise from her hospital bed a few months from now and begin taking on those tough issues her 8th Congressional District of Arizona presents with new fervor and dedication.
The full smorgasbord of viciously fought political issues is domiciled in the home constituency of Rep. Giffords, who by her own account was a moderate and a gun owner, no knee-jerk supporter of Democratic Party causes (she was criticized heavily by a rich supporter in her own district for not backing Nancy Pelosi for re-election as Speaker earlier this week).
She also tried to hold a line against right-wing vitriol on immigration and other issues. But, at home, she had the makings of a deal-breaker. Her husband, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark Kelly, is scheduled to pilot the final mission of the Space Shuttle, and his twin brother is now a crew member on the International Space Station.
Earmarks for both were volatile issues in the 111th Congress, which is forcing NASA to phase out the shuttle missions and swallow severe budget cuts, while at the same time encouraging the nation's premiere technical agency to explore ways of going back to the Moon, on to Mars and to begin planning for years-long journeys into the farther reaches of the solar system and beyond.
The new priorities sometimes slight her husband's employer, and there could be friendly arguments about funding, but there's probably plenty of space between them for that.
Among other significant national issues directly impacting her 8th Congressional District of Arizona:
All of these dynamics, which would be the normal "fill" used for decades in print media and until recently by researchers, assignment editors, field producers, and editors for tv and radio network news were lacking in today's initial and follow-up coverage.
C-SPAN made an attempt to cover things live through local affiliates, but even their feed from (I don't make up these call letters) KGUN-TV Tucson fell apart when the lame local tv anchors and reporters kept repeating the hospital news conference over and over with little new reporting.
Americans using their phones and laptops for information found that Google searches for items often lagged 14 minutes or more after spot news. Usually the same Associated Press dispatch - itself inadequate for several hours - was simply repeated on hundreds of entries.
When this criminal tragedy is unwound, and moderate Americans find out that there is a price for screaming words of hate by ill-informed partisans on all sides, the sidebar will be the shameful performance of "New Media" and what budgetary cuts to news departments have meant for freedom of information.
AR Correspondent Mark Scheinbaum is a former United Press International reporter and veteran broadcaster