The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Boston bombing

We have gone from knowing nothing to … knowing practically nothing. Along the way we learned a New York Post report about a Saudi suspect in custody had no basis in fact. We learned that no, a John F. Kennedy Presidential Library fire was unrelated. We shouldn’t write before we know, but the urge to describe, define and understand is so strong any rumor or gossip is seized upon.

I broke my own admonition on Twitter today, using poor phrasing to convey my dismay with outfits like the New York Post racing to be first (and wrong as it turned out) before they knew the extent of the attack. But that sort of observation should wait.

What do we know? First responders behaved heroically. The president was exactly on the mark, admonishing us not to speculate but assuring the country that an investigation was underway. He refrained from using the term “terrorism,” which at this point is appropriate. His job, before there are concrete answers, is to exude calm. He did that. Speaker of the House John Boehner, after speaking with the president, put out a statement calling for unity, also a restrained and appropriate comment. (“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow for the families who are grieving so suddenly right now. The House of Representatives offers its prayers to the victims and the city of Boston.) As after the Arizona shooting, both leaders were at their best.

We’ll find the culprit, in all likelihood. We will be reminded that we live in a dangerous world and the greatest threats are not from improbable government conspiracies but from those domestic and foreign who seek to do us harm. Looking for answers to evil, however, we have learned, is generally fruitless. We should be comforted by the bravery of those responders, the calmness of local and federal officials (a vast improvement from the Christmas Day bomber fiasco) and the knowledge that, tragically, our law enforcement and national security forces have gotten very good at their jobs. God bless, Boston.