ScaliseLincoln

As Whip, Steve Scalise has a Capitol office where Abe Lincoln used to read by the fire. He named it accordingly.

Stephanie Grace

So much has been written about Steve Scalise's qualities since he was shot Wednesday morning — his ability to form friendships across party lines even as he pursues a pretty hard-line agenda, his unabashed zeal for politics, his personal kindness, and so on— that it's getting a little hard to remember that he's also a regular, down-to-earth guy. And that this too is something to admire.

Scalise, a Jefferson Parish kid who was the first in his family to graduate from college, has made a spectacular climb to become the third-ranking member of the House leadership. With his lofty post comes a sweet Capitol hideaway just off Statuary Hall, where I visited Scalise during this year's Washington Mardi Gras.

The grand hall once served as the House chamber, and a short-timer named Abraham Lincoln had a seat in the back, near a lounge that is now part of Scalise's domain. Scalise learned its history and decided to dedicate the space to Lincoln, decorating it with paintings of the 16th president and reproduced drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address (plus a framed photo of the time he scored on a wild pitch by friend and Louisiana colleague Cedric Richmond at the annual Congressional baseball game, for which Scalise was practicing when the assault happened).

The tour also covered his private office overlooking the Mall, and a trap door to a tunnel where the British were said to have broached the Capitol during the War of 1812. In all, it was pretty awe-inspiring.

What was just as memorable as the historic site was Scalise's attitude, which was much less "I deserve this" than "Isn't this cool?" His spirit was infectious, and so was his underlying wonder at finding himself part of this continuum.

Wednesday's violent assault was an attack not just on Scalise and his colleagues, but on the very idea of that continuum, as well as the principle that at best, our government is made up of regular, down-to-earth people who revere the system in which they serve.

I predict it will have the opposite effect. And I for one can't wait to visit Scalise again there next time I'm in DC.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.