“Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!” posted DebraLee Hovey on Facebook. Hovey’s a Connecticut state representative whose district includes Monroe and part of Newtown, so in fairness the “towns” part isn’t as illiterate as it might seem. There are issues here that go beyond illiteracy. Although the name is Giffords, not Gifford.
Hovey was away, posting from “near Saint Pete Beach, FL,” according to Facebook. And why not? She is entitled to take a vacation like anyone else, and she’s pointed out that she cut an earlier vacation short when the Newtown school massacre took place.
Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly met for 45 minutes with local politicians, discussing gun control and mental health issues. There were no media present, but Newtown’s chief executive, First Selectman Pat Llodra, said she thought “our community will see Ms. Giffords as an ally in the efforts to draw attention to gun control legislation.” They also talked with the families of some of the Newtown victims.
People reacted poorly to Hovey telling Giffords, a survivor of a mass shooting in Tucson, to stay away from the site of a more recent mass shooting. Hovey defended her attack, posting of Giffords’ and Kelly’s visit, “It was political. The Lt Gov was there, Blumenthall was there, and ALL political types KNOW it is courteous to let sitting Reps know when another political is in their District. So…… There was pure political motives.” (So much for defending Hovey’s grammar. Also there is only one l at the end of Senator Blumenthal’s name. Don’t ALL political types KNOW it is courteous to spell names correctly?)
So — Hovey was angry that she wasn’t included. They didn’t let her know.
The anger at Hovey’s remarks grew. She realized she’d better apologize.
The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Gifford’s visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize … My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally. Our community has struggled greatly through this tragedy, and we are all very sensitive to the potential for this event to be exploited for political purposes. This is what I wish to avoid.
That’s a bad apology. Political types ought to know better. It uses the offensive “sorry if” formula, which is not neutralized by throwing in “truly.” She knows she offended people. No if about it.
The sentence about how she wanted to protect the privacy of the families could be okay to explain why she jumped to conclusions about the visit. But the third and fourth sentences go on too long, casting Hovey as part of the struggling “we,” and gabbling vaguely about exploitation.
And, hey, what happened to the complaint about how they were on Hovey’s turf and didn’t invite her? Because it sounds like she would have been okay with “pure politic[s]” if she had been included. (Instead of moldering away on the beach in Saint Pete.)
Hovey, a Republican in office since 2002, appears to be enthusiastic about politics, but not so politically well-informed. “Congresswoman Giffords” isn’t in Congress any more. She resigned January 25, 2012. But Hovey’s not all wrong about politics being involved in the visit. Giffords and Kelly are launching a political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, to “encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.”
That is politics. Politics is how we get government (as well as photo ops). Maybe we can use it to insure domestic Tranquility and promote the general Welfare.
Addendum: Snarly points out that congresswoman is still “a correct honorific for a former member of congress, just as a former president is still called president.” She’s right. AGAIN. (Although I usually say “Representative.”) Now who looks ill-informed? Me, not Hovey. Hovey’s using a respectful form of address, so I’m wrong, and sorry for saying she was ill-informed to do so.