Bud Kennedy

When Dallas needed to grieve, Dan Patrick only wanted to judge

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, talks with state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, at a prayer service Friday in Dallas.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, talks with state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, at a prayer service Friday in Dallas. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

On a day when pain and anguish overcame politics and blame games in America, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did his very best to make things worse.

With Dallas police still picking up bullets and guarding the bodies of five officers lost to a sniper’s gunfire, Patrick unleashed an ill-timed and tone-deaf political attack on Dallas’ peaceful march and the whole idea of protesting disturbing police shootings.

The Dallas marchers were “hypocrites,” he told Fox News.

They ran from sniper Micah Johnson’s SKS rifle gunfire, he said, “expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them.”

In an angry tirade against the general idea of justice marches after police shootings, even though Dallas’ was planned in partnership with officers, Patrick lashed out and said protesters “have a big mouth.”

He blamed past Black Lives Matter marches, saying ominously, “This needs to stop, and it has to stop now.”

Residents pay their respects at a makeshift memorial at Dallas police department headquarters in honor of the five officers who were killed Thursday in an ambush-style attack.

Later, the former Houston radio talk host told CNN that hypocrites might have been the “wrong choice of words” and that he only meant to point out the “irony” that protesters wound up being the protected.

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, also criticized justice marches in general and blamed Black Lives Matter for the shootings, not Johnson.

“Clearly the rhetoric … encouraged the sniper,” Zedler wrote on Twitter, adding: “The Media needs to dispel the lies.”

Our nation has become too divided.

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U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, who used to know better, also complained right away about “modern-day hostility.” He blamed “misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president.”

Once again, Gov. Greg Abbott was left to mop up.

Asked about Patrick’s comments, Abbott said calmly that the shootings “should not be used as a tool of division.”

Too late.

On a day when families from Burleson to Corsicana were planning funerals, Patrick was turning the tragedy into political fodder and scoring himself more cable TV news time.

Patrick even questioned Dallas police Chief David Brown’s choice for officers to wear their more friendly summer shirtsleeves.

Even Donald Trump, or someone ghostwriting his Facebook account, called for “love and compassion” in a time of “senseless, tragic” police killings such as those of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

Patrick’s comments left him far to the right of Trump, over on the fringe with the Drudge Report (headline: “Black Lives Kill”) and fellow radio entertainer Alex Jones (who blamed a “destabilization race war”).

In a morning radio call to KSKY/660 AM host Mark Davis, Patrick even questioned Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s choice for officers to wear their more friendly summer shirtsleeves instead of menacing body armor.

Clearly, Patrick does not like the idea that Dallas police and protesters were getting along.

That’s just not mean-spirited enough for him.

Religious leaders from all faiths joined together Friday at Thanks-Giving Square to pray for healing a day after gunman opened fire on police officers.

By the afternoon CNN interview, Patrick suddenly praised Brown and tried to claim he was agreeing with the chief that officers don’t get enough public support.

We should have known that before long, somebody in Texas would say something really awful.

We should have figured it’d be Patrick.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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