While Steve Scalise has reached the highest levels of American politics — third-ranking in the U.S. House of Representatives — he has remained the unpretentious Jefferson Parish resident that he has always been.
So much so that when he was elected Majority Whip of the House, friends in politics joshed him about the security detail that he had following him around, a status symbol of sorts in Washington but not something he was used to, particularly back home in Louisiana.
Thank God for them.
When Scalise and others of the GOP baseball team were attacked by a rifle-bearing madman in a suburban ballpark, Scalise's security detail took the assailant on with handguns. Their bravery, and that of Alexandria, Virginia, police officers similarly armed, killed the attacker and saved many lives.
Scalise was critically wounded, along with others at the ballpark including the officers. Had the security detail not been present, and even with a quick response from the Alexandria police department, a much worse massacre could well have happened. More than one member of Congress present that day has reason to be grateful for Capitol Police.
Capitol Police have also had to work through a post-mortem on this rare incident of a near-fatal attack on a member of Congress. The force's elite response team was reportedly misdirected in the confusing wake of the Alexandria shooting. Obviously, that is a matter of concern, but the heroism of the officers on the scene is uncontested.
President Donald Trump and members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have rallied around one of their own after this terrible shooting. As Scalise enters a long period of rehabilitation and recovery, he is buoyed by the prayers and support of his friends, here and in Washington.
The president appropriately honored at the White House the responders from the security detail and the police.
Trump presented the Medal of Valor to Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner — Scalise's personal security detail — and Alexandria Police officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe and Alexander Jensen. Scalise's wife, Jennifer, and his doctors from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he had been treated until he was discharged for rehabilitation, all attended the ceremony.
Before placing the decorative medals around each officer's neck, Trump praised them as "real heroes whose courageous action saved so many lives."
That they are, and we know we speak for the people of Louisiana in congratulating them and thanking them for their service at a critical moment.