In the wake of yesterday’s tragic Boston Marathon bombings, President Obama emphasized the need for Americans to ditch partisan politics for the time being and unite as a country. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to be paying attention to the message.
Former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and current Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) are wasting no time in using the bombings to push their respective political agendas.
Speaking to MSNBC, Frank, a longtime democrat, said that Republicans calls for smaller government and lower taxes would limit the government’s ability to respond to emergency situations like Monday’s bombings.
“No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover," Frank said. "This is very expensive." Frank, 73, retired from congress after serving since 1981. During his political career, he was a relentless and passionate advocate for liberal policies.
“In this terrible situation, let's be very grateful that we had a well-funded, functioning government. It is very fashionable in America ... to criticize government, to belittle public employees, talk about their pensions, talk about what people think is their excessive health care, here we saw government in two ways perform very well,” Frank continued.
Frank added that the response to the bombings is “an example of why we need -- if we want to be a civilized people -- to put some of our resources into a common pool so we are able to deal with this, and to deal with it, you can't simply be responsive once it happens.”
In response, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts explicitly asked Frank is he was using the bombings to make a political argument.
“Do you feel like you're capitalizing and making political hay of this event that happened ... that you're making a political argument about revenue right now?”Roberts asked.
Frank was not shy in his response.
“Yes! Exactly! I'm talking common sense!” he said.
Elsewhere, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa used the bombings as a platform to tighten U.S. immigration policies.
“Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa,” King said. “If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture,” he continued.
King said that the path to citizenship laid out in the recent senate immigration reform bill needs to be delayed, if not eliminated all together.
“We need to be ever vigilant. We need to go far deeper into our border crossings. ... If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background check the 11 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?” King said.
The comments by Frank and King are just more evidence of how deeply politically divided America is at this time. Historically, tragedies like Monday’s bombings and December’s Newtown shootings have been met with a period of unity among American citizens and politicians. Events like these are supposed to remind us that matters of life and death are much more important than partisan agendas. But today, just as it was after Newtown, the tragedies are immediately being used for political leverage.
To be fair, it’s understandable that these events are eventually invoked in political arguments. After all, these tragedies stem from problems in society, and political leaders will inevitably have different opinions on how to solve these problems. But, the key word here is eventually.
Megyn Kelly, host of “America Live with Megyn Kelly” on Fox New, spoke appropriately on this trend earlier today.
“Is today the day for that? Over such a controversial issue?” she said. “It's like there's no waiting period any more, no mourning period, and there used to be."