WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Interestingly, the first national pickup for this story is from the conservative Daily Caller, which makes little attempt to defend Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman–and includes a conciliatory quote from House Minority Leader Mark Waller, the other Republican legislator present at yesterday's forum.
While Tom Sullivan spoke, Cadman fidgeted with a notebook and appeared to be doodling or making notes. [Pols emphasis] Waller sat and listened…
Contacted later, Waller said he understood the emotion Sullivan displayed.
“You feel horrible that the guy lost his son. It’s terrible,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “One of the things he said there is, ‘try to imagine what that’s like.’ And I’m thinking to myself, I’ve got two kids, I’ve got a 14-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter and I can’t imagine what that’s like. I can’t imagine the pain of that loss.”
“The only thing I could think is I’d be just as angry as he is,” Waller continued, “but there’s nothing that can be said there that’s going to lessen his pain in any way.”
Full retreat has been sounded, folks. We await Cadman's apology.
An extraordinary confrontation occurred today between the father of a victim of the Aurora shooting last summer, and GOP Colorado Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs. If you were one of the dozen or so in the audience today at the Denver Post's wrapup discussion panel with Cadman and House Minority Leader Mark Waller, or the somewhat larger audience watching online, most of the hour-long discussion was uninspiring boilerplate and complaints you've heard many times. Republicans aren't happy with the results of this year's session. 46:00 into the discussion, Rep. Waller does get in an amusing quip about how he has no more control over crazies in his party than "Democrats do over what goes up on Colorado Pols." Touche!
And then, as the very last question of the panel, this happened.
TOM SULLIVAN: Gentlemen, this is my first time down at the, uh, up in the Gallery, to watch you guys work since my time at Metro State. And I have to tell you, I was kind of appalled at with what, with some of the things that I saw down there, the levity in which our elected officials conduct themselves down on the floor. And, I uh specifically, you know with the GOP now as being labeled as a party of "Guns over People" Party. You must be very proud of that. I sat up there and listened to the stories about, you know the fictitious stories about Boy Scouts, and Canadian missionaries, moving around…
VINCE CARROLL: There's got to be a question here…there's got to be a question…
SEN. CADMAN: You know what, he's trying to accuse me of lying, I think we're done.
SULLIVAN: No, I just…
CADMAN: They're not fictitious. My son is a Scout, and my in-laws go to Canada every year. So, what is it that's not true about that? And you know what…
TIM HOOVER: Let's just ask the question, quickly, please.
CADMAN: It's people, and constitutional rights, over an elite government elected and run by a very progressive–progressive special interest group, that's not even from Colorado. So did you have a question? Or do you just want to continue to throw insults at us?
SULLIVAN: What I will tell you, sir…
CADMAN: Because I'm done. Thanks for the inter–
SULLIVAN: What I will tell you sir is that my son was murdered in the Aurora theater by a man who had bought a 100 round drum and murdered my son. [Pols emphasis]
And I want to, as people have said to me, have expressed their condolences to me, the next thing they then say to me is they can't imagine what it was like. And I would like to ask and say to the two of you, please try and imagine what that was like, having to go around to the hospitals here in town, looking for my son, and then finding out that he was lying in that theater, dead from a single gunshot wound to his heart, and then have to go back, and tell his mother and his sister that he went to the movies one night, and he never went home.
CARROLL: Thanks to all of you for coming today, we appreciate it.
You see, the man Sen. Cadman became indignant with is Tom Sullivan, who son Alex Sullivan was one of twelve murdered last July at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. It's clear from this video clip that Cadman was not aware who he was addressing so contemptuously until Mr. Sullivan explained. Once Sullivan did, Cadman very abruptly dropped the attitude, and sat quietly scribbling notes until Sullivan finished.
Sure, maybe Sullivan could have said earlier that he was the father of an Aurora shooting victim. Maybe that would have given Cadman the cue he needed to not act like a complete asshole to this citizen he knew nothing about.
It's still one of the most riveting, and damning, exchanges we've witnessed between a citizen and a lawmaker.