Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What's next for Rep Giffords?

This is the sort of post that will anger a few, perhaps.

What's next for Gabrielle Giffords, the US House of Representative from Arizona who was tragically attacked early this year by a crazed gunman?   She miraculously survived being shot in the forehead, in what most reasonable guesses and arm-chair experts would have predicted would have been fatal wound.  

I am happy to see someone survive such an attack (eclipsed, perhaps, only by knowing they have the thug who did it).  

But what's next?  Reports say she's continuing her speech therapy, for example, and I - along with millions - wish her well.   

But what about her seat?  Last night she returned to the House to cast her vote for raising the debt-ceiling, and with predictable and justified standing-O's, she left soon after.  Not surprising, considering how soon after it's been since she was released from hospital.

For the record, I am pleased with many of Rep Gifford's positions, including:
  • Increased border patrols
  • Endorsing 9/11 Commission findings
  • new rules for the House of Representatives targeting ethical issues
  • advocated for a national day of recognition for cowboys 
That she had already earned rock-star status from her husband being an astronaut and active-duty military member - not to mention she's also extremely attractive in her own right - makes her an even brighter spot on the political landscape.

But what about her representation of her district?  How long will the people of 8th-Arizona go without their voice in the Congress?  What is to be done for those people if Ms.Giffords requires another year or so of rehabilitation to regain more of her speech ability?  

Anyone who knows me is aware I am not one to dismiss the possibilities of anyone affected by different abilities, but in the real world of politics, one has to ponder when the well-wishing for her recovery must be balanced with whether or not she is able to carry out her duties as an elected official.  For whatever standard is determined for Gabby today will be the same ruler used when the next elected official faces such an impairment (i.e. stroke).  And in that vein, no one should be chastised if they dare to challenge her for her seat - either in a primary or the general election.  

For if we are truly concerned for a fair and level playing field, then Ms. Giffirds must be allowed to demonstrate to her constituents her ability to lead and serve.

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