Are Senators Warner and Manchin “Shameless + Untrustworthy?”

Here’s a tweet from Time Magazine writer Michael Grunwald:

grunwaldI tweeted with Mr. Grunwald briefly about this and I don’t quite agree. He’s referring to the separate remarks by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) stating that they’ve changed their opinions on gun control and now want stronger regulation.

Grunwald tweeted: “I’m suggesting they’re not really switching their opinion, and people shouldn’t get their hopes up” and “But in our business we don’t have to pretend awful opportunists aren’t awful opportunists. Aurora was shattering too.”

The question comes down to whether you believe Warner and Manchin changed their opinions for political purposes or really had a change of heart. Certainly, none of us knows for sure, but it’s unfair to rule out a change of heart.

Grunwald believes that Virginia Tech, Aurora and every other mass shooting would have been enough to change their minds. The fact that Warner and Manchin are doing so after Friday’s tragic events and now that there is desire for greater gun control demonstrates not a change of hearts, but a politically-motivated decision.

Maybe that’s so, but I’m not so sure.

The reason is: this time is different. It’s sad, but it’s true. The shooting at Newtown has hit people across the country harder than the ones in Aurora and in Oak Creek. Part of it is the sheer number of tragedies this year – there have been 13 shootings with multiple fatalities just in 2012. But it’s more than that.

It’s different from Aurora, Oak Creek and others. This was a targeted attack on the most innocent people in our country in one of the most innocent locations. If an elementary school in a safe town is not safe, nowhere is. That’s not to say that shootings in a movie theater or a temple should not cause widespread outrage and provoke demands for more gun control. But the shooting at Sandy Hood caused an even greater emotional response for the precise reason that it targeted little kids.

That’s what sets Newtown apart from all of the other tragic shootings.

It’s why the petition for the Obama Administration to address gun control has received a record number of signatures. It’s why people everywhere are shaken and demanding new legislation. It may just be why Senators Manchin and Warner have changed their minds.

If it turns out that they are doing so just to gain political points, then Grunwald is right, that is shameless, untrustworthy and revolting. That would be a new low for American politics and I sincerely hope it is not the case. Until I see evidence proving that, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt



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