by Frank Lewis
Senator Voinovich wants you to know that he does not approve of politically motivated violence:
The national debate on health care has been at times frustrating, heated and tense. While I am absolutely opposed to what the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have done — on both the policy and process — I cannot condone any action of violence or threat of violence against anyone who holds views different from my own.
Our country is looked upon around the world as the beacon for fair and free elections; a democracy unparalleled in history. Voters spoke in 2008 and this is a clear illustration that elections have significant consequences. For those who have concerns, I would urge them to circle November 2, 2010, on their calendars — the day their voices can and will be heard the loudest and clearest. That is the way Americans express their dissatisfaction with elected officials whose decisions they disagree with. Violence against any person in public office or their family is reprehensible and shall not stand.
Voinovich was responding to news that a gas line was cut at the home of the brother of Congressman Tom Perriello, a Virginia Democrat. "[A] tea party activist incorrectly posted the address of Perriello’s brother on a local blog — believing it to be the congressman’s home address — and encouraged readers to 'drop by' to express their anger of Perriello’s vote in favor of the health care bill," Politico reports. And so now Voinovich, the self-styled moderate, is anxious to distance himself from the ugliness.
Sorry, Senator, it's far too late for that.
Where was your outrage when a man carried an assault rifle to an Obama rally? Where was your concern when your colleague from Ohio, Minority Leader John Boehner, lent credence to the odious, fearmongering charge that healthcare reform would "start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia”?the t-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh the day he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City? Where were the chastisements when they bestowed hero status on Joseph Stack, the scumbag who flew a small plane into an IRS building in February, after writing in his ranting, self-important suicide note that "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer"?
You've not only remained mute throughout this increasingly dark period, you've contributed to the fear and ignorance fueling the extremism with breathtakingly hypocritical and misleading predictions of economic ruin if Democrats are allowed to do what voters sent them to Washington to do. Like that other phony moderate John McCain, you've recalibrated your principles — indeed, your sense of decency — so many times in recent years that you don't even know what you stand for anymore.
In other words, you have given aid and comfort to the American-born terrorists whose actions suddenly shock you.
You can't claim that you didn't know. A Department of Homeland Security report stated: "Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propoganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning."
That was year ago. Since then elements of the so-called tea party movement have been openly and loudly mobilizing for civil war, and you've said nothing. And now you expect to be taken seriously when you self-righteously declare that you "cannot condone any action of violence or threat of violence"? Sorry, Senator. To do nothing is also a choice, and you clearly lack the moral clarity and backbone to make up for lost time now. — Frank Lewis
UPDATE: Frank Rich of the NYT got into this in his Sunday column:
After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.
Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.
UPDATE 2: Media Matters reports on a Glenn Beck appearance in Florida:
Frequently accused of relying on apocalyptic fear-mongering to build ratings and get attention, Beck provided details of the fictional political thriller that he's planning to publish in June — called The Overton Window, according to online catalogue listings — that will do little to dispel those complaints, as the tome will portray America sliding into a civil war.
"It's a story of America at time much like today where the people are confused and they're being lied to and they're not sure what's right-side-up and upside-down," Beck said. "And there's one part...there's a group of people that plays a role called the Founders Keepers...This leads to a battle and a civil war, and life is upside down planet-wide. There's a group of people that just won't give up."
On Saturday, Beck continued to weave his characteristic apocalyptic warnings in between a series of self-help-flavored anecdotes and repeated appeals to religious faith.
"If we don't face the truth right now, we'll be dead in five years — this country can't survive," he said at one point. During his keynote speech, Beck also advised his fans to stockpile food. "I am incredibly prepared," he said.