If last month’s Armed Services “Military Sexual Assault” hearing brought raw emotion and a call for humanity to Capitol Hill, that exercise turned out to be constructive and cathartic. That’s in profound contrast to yesterday, however, in which the disabled Gabby Giffords and the Sandy Hook family members put themselves on the line only to have salt poured on their wounds.
The photos from the Senate defeat of gun control yesterday really require little elaboration. The gravity of the vote, and the trauma and deep losses that elicited it, stripped away any artifice of the political photo op. All I know is that, watching that video of the post-vote Rose Garden statement by Obama and Mark Barden, the Sandy Hook representative, I felt my own anger mix with some tears.
Like a bookend, this shot from the Capitol of Senators and Newtown family members emits the same grief as those faces at the White House. I was only a little less furious with Reid when I heard he switched his vote to “no” to facilitate further tries. It’s the stricken Blumenthal back center though who, at this point, has become the Senator from Sandy Hook.
This might be a tangent but, similar to the the scenes from that Armed Services session (that subcommittee hearing prompted and chaired by female Senators), we see a “that same touch” here. That’s Senator Patty Murray in the center with Newtown family members Carlee Soto and Erica Lafferty.
Finally, one might argue that this is a throw-away shot with the kid accidentally entering the frame. On a symbolic level, however, the image largely capturing the opposition business-as-usual on a monumentally spineless day, the kid is incredible. He’s a witness for all the kids this (already cripplingly narrow and compromised) legislation was all about. And then, the gaze is like a living editorial — the look of either “seriously?” or “you’re killing me.”
(photo 1: screenshot/WhiteHouse.com. photo 2: Alex Wong/Getty Images. caption: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) speaks as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (L), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (3rd L), Sandy Hook victim Vicki Soto’s sister Carlee Soto (2nd L), Sandy Hook victim Dawn Hochsprung’s daughter Erica Lafferty (4th L) listen during a news briefing after a vote on the Senate floor April 17, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate defeated a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks on firearms purchases and close the so-called gun-show loophole. photo 3: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. caption: Sandy Hook victim Vicki Soto’s sister Carlee Soto (R) and Sandy Hook victim Dawn Hochsprung’s daughter Erica Lafferty (L) are hugged by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (C) after a vote on the Senate floor April 17, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. photo 4: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. caption: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (C) stops to talk on his way to a vote on the Senate floor April 17, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate rejected a proposal by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks on firearms purchases and to close the so-called gun-show loophole.)