Saturday, March 27, 2010

Irresponsible And Reckless

Responding to threats of violence against House members who voted for health care reform, Representative Eric Cantor (R.-VA) on March 25 declared "Let me be clear -- I do not condone violence. There are no leaders in this building, no rank and file members in this building, that condone violence, period."

Then he went on to condone violence.

I've received threats since I assumed elected office, not only because of my position but also because I'm Jewish. I've never blamed anyone in this body for that, period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children. Just recently I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I've received threatening e-mails. But I will not release them, because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent....

I want to stress this and it's very important. Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues and should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials. It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.

That is why I have deep concerns that some, Chris Van Hollen and Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.

I'm not naive enough to think that letters, statements or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting. But I do know that such letters, statements and press releases can very easily fan the flames. By ratcheting up the rhetoric, some will only enflame these situations to dangerous levels. Enough is enough. It has to stop.

Shorter Cantor: I need to be on record denouncing violence, which I then blame on people who bring it to the attention of the public and thereby provoke justifiably angry people.

There is another problem with Cantor's statement, however. But as Jed Lewison notes at Daily Kos (its video below), there is

virtually no way somebody would ever have targeted that particular office if they were going after Cantor. For starters, neither his campaign site nor his official site list the building as his campaign office. The building itself does not have any markings to suggest that it housed his campaign office. And if all that weren't enough, the office isn't even located in his congressional district.

It's highly unlikely, therefore, that an individual would have known the office was Cantor's. The bullet did not enter his office but instead hit the outside of a building which houses his office. And Cantor told a newspaper he wasn't sure the shot was not random.

But that didn't stop the #2 Republican in the House of Representatives. And now he has been called on it. On Thursday, a report on the blog of the Richmond, Va. Police Department includes

A Richmond Police detective was assigned to the case. A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.

The Richmond Police Department is sharing information about the incident with appropriate law enforcement agencies.

At this time there are no suspects.

So let's agree with "The Lonely Conservative," who on 3/25- but evidently before the police report was issued- blogged

So, which side is more violent? Will the main stream media report this non-stop for the next three weeks? Probably not.

Hopefully, this conservative's (premature) wish will come true and the media will "report this non-stop for the next three weeks." A GOP leader, anxious to claim that violent attacks are made not only on Democratic but also upon Republican officeholders, calls a press conference to announce that a bullet has been "shot through the window of my campaign office." But he realizes that its location was not widely known, there is no evidence that the culprit even knew it was his office, and probably that the bullet never penetrated the outside walls. But he does believe that the media message will be this: violence is bipartisan and its victims, bipartisan.

It's one thing for Sarah Palin to encourage violence and Newt Gingrich to condone violence. It's quite another for a top Republican to condemn as "reprehensible" using incidents as "a political weapon" at the same time he himself is knowingly and brazenly distorting a criminal matter and using it as a political weapon.

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