Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth says the quality of public discourseright now is terrible, but he’s not blaming the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords on political unrest.
He says it’s premature to extrapolate that the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was politically motivated.
Danforth served as Missouri’s Attorney General and then in the U.S. Senate. He says the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson is unfortunately nothing new as he reflects on Pres. Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. However, he says he’s not sure it was politically motivated.
He does say the current “public discourse is terrible.”
Danforth says he never feared for his life when he held public office, but he says politics is rougher now than then, and there were times he was uneasy. He remembers town hall forums where people were very outspoken and very passionate about their political ideals.
“Try voting to sell the Panama Canal and see how people react,” he laughs, but says it’s a good thing when people feel strongly about their government. He says citizens should be passionate about their political beliefs, but thinks the speed of information and 24-hour media is fueling a fire for some who have a hair trigger.
He says it will be interesting to see the details of Jared Loughner’s motive unfold.
He also says of those in public office, that they need to be careful of what they say in situations like this, or in other politically tense situations, because they should be trying to ease the problems rather than making it worse.