In Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, former astronaut Mark Kelly writes about the events surrounding the shooting of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Amid the personal and family narrative that is “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope,” author Mark Kelly incorporates the most frank assessments to date of public figures involved in the aftermath of the shooting of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Kelly imagines a conversation with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for instance, who “targeted” the Democrat’s Arizona district with cross hairs during the 2010 elections.
“Given that a lot of the discussion in the wake of the shooting had singled out Palin, I expected she might also want to clear the air,” Kelly wrote. “‘You are not responsible,’ I planned to tell Sarah Palin. ‘But you are irresponsible.’ … As it turns out she never called.”
Kelly similarly scolds Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for neither calling nor visiting Giffords during her recuperation.
“[W]e thought he’d ask to visit Gabby, or at least give a call to see how she was doing,” he wrote. “Our only contact with him had been a simple get-well card he’d sent a few days after Gabby was injured.”
Not all political cameos in the book are negative. President George H.W. Bush, who visited Giffords in the Houston hospital where she has been rehabbing, is described as an “elder statesman” who “seemed genuinely concerned about Gabby and her loved ones.”
“President Bush sat with Gabby for fifteen minutes holding her left hand. It was very touching to watch,” Kelly wrote. “‘You’ve been so strong,’ he told her. ‘I’m really proud of you and I’m praying for your recovery.’”
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama come off as gracious, visiting several times with Giffords and her family, even on the day the president authorized the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
In the days following the shooting, however, Giffords’ family tried to keep visits few and media fodder light, out of fear, as Kelly wrote, “that someone from Washington might use a visit to assess Gabby’s competence and her ability to remain in office. That’s only natural in the cutthroat world of politics.”
Giffords was, after all, a rising star in Arizona politics and was weighing whether to run for the Senate in 2012 or perhaps wait until 2014 to try her hand at the governorship, the book reveals.
Overall, Kelly comes off acutely aware of how his wife was portrayed in the media and how they were perceived in the public, reading and being affected by not only articles and op-eds but reader comments underneath them.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.