Democratic advisors were brazenly quick to telegraph how the shooting should be managed. They followed an earlier suggestion by Democratic Pollster, Mark Penn, that Obama needs a “similar event” to the Oklahoma City bombing to reconnect with disenchanted voters. Some actually opined that lucky Bush had his 9/11 and wondered if this could be Obama’s moment. Such a tragic crisis should not be wasted, as Rahm Emmanuel has famously said.
Could it be the heroes of this story have been chosen and that Judge Roll doesn’t fit the template? Appointed by President George H.W. Bush, could it be that Judge Roll’s act of courage was seen to diminish or interfere with the aggrandizement of a Democratic Congresswoman from her tragic shooting? Could it be that in an attempt to trade on her tragic circumstances, the report of a heroic Republican Judge would be inconvenient?
The killing of a federal judge has never been a small thing. Judges are appointed for life and in many ways, wield more influence and authority than sitting Congressmen. Judge John Roll is only the 4th to be killed in America’s history. The last was Robert S. Vance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit who died in 1989 from an explosion of a pipe bomb mailed to his home in Alabama. The FBI, in a status reserved for events like 9/11, deemed it a “major case”. A task force called “VanPac” didn’t stop until the Georgia man responsible was convicted of murder. The message has always been clear: Don’t touch a federal judge.
But Judge John Roll’s murder seems more of an aside…a happenstance worth only a mention… and the story now revealed of his personal heroism a great “Ho-Hum.”
Judges make difficult decisions that affect us all. If we want them to judge free from wrong influences, they must be protected at all costs. Their killing, purposeful or inadvertent must be treated with great seriousness. Their murder or their heroism must not be ignored nor should the death and heroism of others be exploited for political advantage.
Six people are dead and eighteen more wounded. At last Obama has his crisis, and it appears it shall not be wasted. And that’s why the American public may never know about the heroism of Judge John Roll.