Political notebook: On edges of tragedy, a ring tone sounds right note

2011-01-16T00:00:00Z Political notebook: On edges of tragedy, a ring tone sounds right noteAndrea Kelly and Rhonda Bodfield Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tears have been close to the surface for days. Tucson continues to work through the tragedy. But there are many small moments of humanity that help us all exhale. Here are a few.

Ring tone for times

The media got some good news and a chuckle as doctors updated U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' condition Thursday, noting she'd made "a major leap forward" when she opened her eyes the night before.

During the news conference at University Medical Center, the gaggle of assembled media, and even the all-business neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole Jr., couldn't help but share in the lighter moment when the trauma chief's cell phone rang, interrupting the meeting.

Dr. Peter Rhee's phone, equipped with a personalized ring tone, chimed out the words and tune of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" song. Instead of normal eye-rolling reaction to a cell-phone interruption, there was a round of chuckles at the choice.

We can't think of a more appropriate ring tone.

Dessert at the ready

If you've ever been to Peter Wilke's B Line on North Fourth Avenue, you know the temptation of the treats, spinning in the dessert display case. A few of the chocolate salted caramel tarts are rumored to have made it to Washington, D.C.

President Obama was supposed to eat lunch at another of Wilke's establishments, Wilko on University Boulevard, when he came to town Wednesday. But the short-notice trip and an extra phone call with the United Nations put him far enough behind schedule that lunch was simply skipped, Wilke said.

It was too bad because Wilke's staff made extra chocolate salted caramel tarts to serve at Wilko, knowing they are a favorite of the president, who has swooned over a Seattle version dressed in dark chocolate and smoked sea salt.

When he couldn't make it to lunch, Wilke and staff boxed up several of the treats (which are usually available at The B Line for $4.95) and sent them to the president, who was visiting shooting victims at University Medical Center and speaking at a memorial service at McKale Center.

Even though Michelle Obama contends "dessert is not a right," and even though the Unifier in Chief has slightly elevated cholesterol levels, we're still hopeful the president was allowed at least a sample.

Mr. Prez, going my way?

Turns out you can actually ask a favor of the president - you can even bum a ride off him.

Pam Simon, one of Giffords' congressional-office aides in community outreach, attended Wednesday's memorial still healing from gunshot wounds. She used a wheelchair to get around, and at the end of the event, she was caught up in the crush of people milling about.

With her medication wearing off and still tired from her recovery, Simon wondered how she was going to get out of the throng, according to the story relayed by Mark Kimble, one of Giffords' spokesmen.

When the president made his way back to shake hands with Simon, he asked if there was anything he could do to help. In fact, there was. She asked if he could give her a ride back to UMC.

While Obama said he personally couldn't, the leader of the free world got one of the motorcade vehicles to do it, and she was back at the hospital in five minutes.

Goal of civil discourse

Speaking of bipartisanship (and everyone is speaking of it in some way), No Labels kicked off nationally with a splashy event last month to decry the ugliness of partisanship.

The local kickoff event was Thursday night in what Bunny "Ruth" Davis described as a community gathering to discuss the concept.

"This is not an effort to get people to drop their labels; it's not even against average partisan politics. We're not anti-politicians … . What we are against is hyper-partisanship," Davis said. "We're not asking people to give up labels, but let's not let those be barriers."

Now, in preparation for the State of the Union address on Jan. 25, the group is suggesting members hold bipartisan watch parties. Those who sign up at Stateoftheunity.com might even win a trip to D.C. to attend a watch party event there and hit the cable news circuit with one of the No Labels founders.

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at rbodfield@azstarnet.com or 573-4243. Contact reporter Andrea Kelly at akelly@azstarnet.com or 807-7790.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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