BOSTON (CBS) – As the writer Robert McKee once put it: “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation.”
That’s the good news and bad news about the fallout from Wednesday’s atrocity in Virginia, where a deranged Trump-hater tried to murder multiple members of the Republican Congressional baseball team and the Capitol Police.
The good news is that in the wake of this horror, most members of Congress and onlookers reacted appropriately – with calls for bipartisan unity in defiance of violence. It was the same outpouring we saw right after 9/11, when both parties rallied on the Capitol steps and sang “God Bless America.”
The bad news is that not everyone in a position of power or influence shows character in moments of crisis.
When Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot during a 2011 mass shooting where six people were killed, some liberals rushed to pin it on the Tea Party and their aggressive rhetoric. It turned out to be much more about mental illness than politics.
It’s pretty clear Wednesday’s shooter hated Republicans. But while most of their peers were waiting for the facts and promoting bipartisan unity, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Iowa Congressman Steve King were blaming liberals for allegedly creating a climate of hate.
Pot, meet kettle.
Political pundits tell us character doesn’t matter anymore, that people vote to scratch their itch and the squeakiest, most irresponsible wheels get the grease.
If that’s true, then maybe we voters need to look harder for character – on the ballot, and in the mirror.