Conservatives Attack ‘Double Standard’ on Health Care Threats

By
Friday, March 26, 2010 at 6:00 am
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Tea Party demonstrators (EPA/ZUMApress.com, David Weigel)

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Tea Party demonstrators (EPA/ZUMApress.com, David Weigel)

Brendan Steinhauser, the director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, helped put together two days of rallies against health care legislation on Capitol Hill. Much of the coverage of those rallies focused on alleged incidents of racial and sexual slurs against Democratic members of Congress who were walking into the building for negotiations over the vote. And that, to Steinhauser, was ridiculous.

[GOP1]“Ninety-nine percent of the people out there were good, patriotic Americans,” Steinhauser told TWI. “Those are our people. But what we heard about were these very few incidents of alleged racial slurs which I haven’t seen evidence of. I’d like to see the video if it’s out there.”

Steinhauser was not alone. On March 21, Missouri-based blogger Jim Hoft posted “video proof that these horrible leftists are liars” in the form of a noisy, 48-second clip of several black members of Congress being heckled, with no racial slurs audible amid the din. “These radical liars with stop at nothing to ram their socialist agenda down America’s throat,” wrote Hoft. And across Washington, many conservatives shared doubts about a story that had damaged and embarrassed Republicans, prompting catch-all apologies from Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). One hot rumor was that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) had excitedly hyped and sold the “slurs” story to reporters; another was that police wanted to debunk the story, but had to stay off the record. (Reports on the event were based on the personal accounts of the congressmen and of a criminal complaint filed by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D- Mo., that Cleaver then dropped, without explanation.)

Over the long, angry week since the health care care vote, as more than a dozen members of Congress reported threats or attacks to their homes and offices, Tea Party leaders and Republicans have put out condemnations and apologies. That doesn’t quite reflect the sentiment inside the movement — a belief that the media and the Democratic Party are hyping, and possibly fabricating, racist or violent attacks to tar their opposition.

“The American people,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) in a Thursday floor speech, “have every right to oppose this government takeover of health care without being lumped in with bigots and vandals by liberals in Congress and in the mainstream press.”

This isn’t the first time Tea Party activists have been accused by Democrats of slurs, violence, and anti-democratic threats — or the first time Republicans have been accused of indulging them. In August 2009, stories and video of angry activists at congressional town hall meetings polarized Washington. Democrats accused Tea Partiers of organizing “un-American” mob scenes. Republicans embraced the activists, and credited their rowdiness with keeping the health care bill on ice.

“Since last July,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) at Saturday’s rally, before the reported slur incidents, “you have put the brakes on this health care bill! The other day, the president, who was planning a trip to Southeast Asia, canceled his trip! You have grounded Air Force One!”

But it took several days for Tea Partiers and Republicans to start fighting back against was they saw as a concerted effort to disqualify their arguments about the health care bill. By Thursday, all leading Tea Party groups and Republicans had issued condemnations of the reported attacks. (“ResistNet Does NOT ADVOCATE Violence!” read one banner on the website of a leading grassroots group.) Those condemnations gave conservatives the space to blame Democrats for pushing so many stories of threats to members of Congress.

“I have deep concerns,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a Thursday press conference about a mysterious incident involving a gun fired near an office he sometimes uses, “that some – DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman 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.”

Cantor, like Pence, spoke to conservative irritation at an aggressive campaign by official Democratic committees and by organizations like Media Matters Action to publicize — and get Republicans on the record about — reports of violence. That subject occupied Rush Limbaugh for more than half of his Thursday broadcast, during which the conservative host told listeners that they “need to stop being defensive about this and turn it right back” onto Democrats.

“When we have a terrorist attack,” said Limbaugh, “the Democrats always ask: What did we do to deserve this? Have you heard any of the Democrats ask this about something they imposed on us?” At multiple points, he called the health care bill “the real death threat” and intimated that Democrats had faked both the Saturday slurs and the week of attacks on Democrats. “They have to invent this narrative of violence against them for their own well-being.”

Limbaugh echoed some of the “give me a break” criticism of other conservatives, who had refused to accept the framing of the event provided by the mainstream media. Cantor’s press conference provided an opening for some to go after the tactics of Democrats, blaming them for hype.

“‘I’m getting death threats’ has become a tired meme in the American media,” wrote blogger Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com, “and a handy way for politicians to avoid the responsible accountability that mainstream Americans demand. And it’s not just Democrats who have indulged in that avoidance strategy in the past, although they’re certainly the culprits of the moment.”

“When,” joked blogger Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller website, “will the Democrats stand up and condemn this act of violence they caused?”

But other conservatives went beyond the Republican line, arguing that the Democrats got what was coming to them. In an e-mail to his America’s Values supporters, Gary Bauer soft-peddled the Saturday slur story by noting that “these liberals chose to walk through the upset protestors in the hopes, I suspect, of provoking an incident.”

“After years of falsely characterizing former President Bush as a tyrant,” wrote blogger Dan Riehl, “they’ve let slip the mask and America can see with their own eyes who the real tyrants are… [D]on’t expect us to feel sorry for you, or respect you for the wrath you’re now faced with confronting. That may be the only thing you actually deserve for the unjust and un-democratic way in which you’ve comported yourselves throughout this entire charade.”

Conservative anger at the coverage extended to the perceived double standard. Once again, they argued, attacks on Democrats were taken as gospel before rigorous fact-checking; once again, alleged attacks by conservatives were taken more seriously than attacks by the left.

“I wonder,” asked Limbaugh, “if all of those AIG executives whose mansions were surrounded by ACORN and SEIU activists — bussed in activists — got any death threats?”

Steinhauser, who appeared on Fox News Thursday to discuss the double standard, told TWI that it was fair to question why the media didn’t flood the zone on coverage of a September 11, 2009 bomb threat received by FreedomWorks, or by attacks from unions.

“There wasn’t this sort of outcry about what the SEIU was doing at town halls,” said Steinhauser. “If you want to take it back to the 20th century, the left has more to condemn than the right does. My goodness, look at what happened with the 1968 Democratic National Convention! Look at the radical elements of the environmental movement. Look at Bill Ayers — this guy was a member of radical group who said and did awful things. He helped launch Barack Obama’s political career, he’s part of the mainstream Left again, and there’s barely a word about it.”

Follow David Weigel on Twitter


Comments

49 Comments

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jeffinohio
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 11:05 am

The truth inside the hyperbole is that the media gives more coverage to loud mouthed ignoramuses then to cogent debate. The Tea Bag crowd has moved past crying at town halls to throwing rocks and racial epithets and the media coverage has moved with them. Now their leaders don't like it when the behavior they encouraged manifest and make the news and the leader of the Repubs in the House stages a press conference and tells a bold faced lie. To bad by half, knuckle dragging pant wetters.

If anyone should be crying about media coverage, it should be the 200,000 people who marched in Washington DC fro sensible immigration reform and subsequently blacked out of media coverage.


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lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

Incredible. As if the gop are lily white and pure, and always tell the truth.
Chris Dodd was cleared of any wrong doing and they know it, but even though
he’s not going to run again the gop in their typical Gestapo methods continue
lie and kick a decent man, hoping CT is as dumb as the red states and will
vote against Richard Blumenthal who is well liked and respected in my former
state.

I think the majority of the Connecticut people are too smart for that.


crackbaby
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

This tactic is the latest iteration of what has now become known as “niceism”. Niceism is defined as those times where one side of a debate accuses the other side of not being nice when they respond to attacks. Repuds use it all the time and in this case, they have applied the tactic to describing the Dems' reaction to pre-planned violence against elected officials.

The bottom line is that Dems simply do not use the same tactics of personal attacks, tattle-tale complaints, etc. when arguing policy positions; it's the repuds who do that. But the Rovian method is to attack on the issue you are weakest on.

The best thing to do when the right-wing weenies whine that “You're being mean…wah….”, simply respond with something like “STFU Buttface” or similar. Then laugh and walk away and enjoy the satisfaction of annoying a repud.


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KCinDC
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

The sentence about Cantor's bullet hole needs some work. Aside from the “ABOUT?” editing error, the bullet *hole* was not fired, and apparently the bullet itself was not fired AT the office but was a random shot that ended up there.


CestWhat
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

There is a way to do this.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefi…

Read MoveOn.org's statement after that man (who wasn't exactly a saint himself) got his finger bite off.

I think people who hate political correctness like Republicans. Remember Sarah Palin said political correctness was ruining freedom and liberty. She also thought she was getting attacked for being women and demands apologies, so take it from what it's worth. Plus to Rush Limbaugh's point about SEIU and ACORN protests outside Wall Street bigwig's home, I'm pretty the Tea Party isn't exactly pro-bailout either and they protested that too right?

On another note, I defended Mr. Weigel over that nonsense with Jane Hamsher, but I've noted a change in tone of his recent blog posts. I mean this post was just repeating rumors from within the Tea Party? While that's interesting, it still doesn't feel like real “journalism with a j” (although what would I know about “real journalist”).

PLUS Quote: “in a Thursday press conference on ABOUT? a mysterious bullet hole fired at an office he sometimes uses”

What's up with “ABOUT?” and also didn't the AP report that the gun was fired quite far from that office and the bullet just fell to Earth that has a weak connection with Eric Cantor?


chrisjay
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

I heard that somebody shot a gun near a neighborhood I once lived in. And my step-mother votes Republican. That has gotta help line up an equivalency between teabagger viciousness and GOP victimhood.


chrisjay
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

Richmond PD states unequivocally that the bullet found ( in what Cantor claims is a campaign office—outside his district) was fired randomly, into the air. Nobody was targeted for anything here.


strangely_enough
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

“Stop talking about the reactionaries we've been egging on for a year now! Liberals and the media are unfair!”

It really does sound that childish.


lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

The people of CT. are too smart to fall for the gop deceptions. We know Chris Dodd, have re-elected him for a long time, and now that he's decided not to run because of the lies the gop continued to run even to this day, did some damage, they are trying to prevent Richard Blumenthal from being elected.

Connecticut is not a red state and we have too many intelligent and better educated people to fall for their lies.


lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

Heil.


lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

Yeah as if Richmond as people running through its streets shooting their rifles up in the air as they do in the Middle East.

Me thinks cantor is doing the old gop spin, “take the heat off us and turn it around to make the Democrats as low as we are.”

Only the brainwashed righties believe him. The rest of us want proof.


lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

I think the police lied to cover for cantor who just happens to not want to show the threats he had been receiving because he doesn't want to stir up trouble.

Nice touch of stirring up trouble don't you think? But frankly I like proof.


lyris
Comment posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

Yeah and I believe in the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause.


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Comment posted April 9, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

The people who shout racial slurs, rants, and anti-government slogans no longer bother me. I just use my web cam voice recorder on my cell phone and wahla!!! Recorded with picture to send to the authorities. And they didn't even see me.


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