Rep. Cantor: Attacks Dems as ‘Reprehensible,’ ‘Reckless’ Using ‘Threats as Political Weapons’
March 25, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) just made a short and very angry statement in the Capitol building before reporters, addressing the recent violence and threats made against Democratic lawmakers after voting for passage of healthcare reform. But he neither addressed nor condemned, Republican lawmakers’ use of inflammatory language, which has contributed to the dangerous political climate. And he accused Democrats of exaggerating the threats for political gain. Cantor also revealed that he was directly threatened this week, when a bullet was shot through the window of his Richmond campaign office.
“I’ve received threats since I assumed elected office, not only because of my positions, but because I am Jewish,” Cantor said. “I’ve never blamed anyone in this body for that. Period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body that would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children.”
Cantor said that he has received threatening emails, but has never released them because it would only embolden the senders. He accused Democrats of recklessness for releasing threatening emails and phone calls. “It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain,” he said.
He then called out DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine by name, directly accusing them of publicizing threats to fan the flames for political advantage. That is why I have deep concerns — DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames that these incidents be used as a political weapon.
“Security threats against members of Congress is [sic] not a partisan issue and they should be 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, press releases can very easily fan the flames by ratcheting up the rhetoric. Some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels. Enough is enough. It has to stop. We need to move forward and get back to addressing the important issues facing our nation and let law enforcement handle these situations,” said Cantor.
The DNC responded to Cantor’s accusations:
“We disagree with the charge made by Rep. Cantor today that Democrats are using acts of violence for political gain. Let’s be clear: calling on Republican leaders who have contributed in part to this anger by wildly mischaracterizing the substance and motives of health reform to condemn these acts is entirely appropriate.
Instead of distracting from the issue with more attacks, we would again ask Mr. Cantor and other Republicans, as we did yesterday, to join Chairman Kaine in working to ratchet down the rhetoric, condemn deplorable behavior and find ways to disagree on these issues without the charged rhetoric that we’ve been hearing from Republican leaders.”
House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), responded to Cantor’s charges on MSNBC, warning Republicans that “If you play with fire you will get burned.”
He pointed out that the toxic political climate and overheated rhetoric began over a year ago when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled out “You lie” to the President of the United States, during a joint session of Congress. Wilson then turned around and raised money off of his notoriety. Then Rep. Randy Neugebauer, (R-TX) shouted out “baby killer” to colleague Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and then he turned around, the next day and tried to raise cash from his bad behavior.
And over the weekend, said Clyburn, the whole world saw what happened, when Republican lawmakers stood up and cheered when tea party hecklers disrupted a session of Congress and when Republicans left the House session to stand on an outside balcony to wave a Gadsden flag, egging on the unruly tea party protesters below. The day before, the tea party protesters abused Democratic lawmakers, using racial and anti-gay slurs and spitting on one lawmaker.
(Update: This from Steve Benen of Washington Monthly: “A few hours after accusing Democrats of “fanning the flames,” Cantor was the featured guest on a conference call held by the “S.T.O.P. Obama Tyranny National Coalition.”
“By all appearances, Cantor isn’t quite bright enough to appreciate the irony.”