September 30th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Steele calls Tom Friedman a 'nut job' over latest column

Steele appeared on CNN's American Morning Wednesday.
Steele appeared on CNN's American Morning Wednesday.

(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Wednesday beat back suggestions from some political commentators - most recently from the New York Times' Tom Friedman - that conservative opposition to President Obama is creating a political climate that may foreshadow attempts of violence against the commander-in-chief.

"Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this," Steele told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning in direct response to a quote from Friedman's column Wednesday equating the current political environment to that which occurred ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in 1995.

"To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position," Steele continued. "[They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we're going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn't have this kind of conversation."

"There are passions that run deep and long on both sides of the aisle," Steele also said. "Don't necessarily jump to the conclusion that, because someone says something vitriolic or hot that's necessarily from the right or the left. It's reflecting deep-seeded frustrations people have."

Steele also criticized accusations that many of the president's critics are driven by race, rather than pure policy disagreements.

"I'm always very careful about going down that road, you know, so blindly and so quickly," said Steele, adding later, "I applaud the president on this front. He has been out there saying look, let's separate all of this into the appropriate pockets and not go down this road unnecessarily."

The Republican Party chairman was also quick to condemn a user posted poll on Facebook over the weekend asking if the president should be assassinated.

"How stupid is that? Why would you even put something like that on Facebook?" he said. "It takes us to a place where we don't need to be, quite frankly in the debate of any public policy issue."


Filed under: Michael Steele
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Steve Olsen

    The problem is when I go to conservative websites, I hear a lot of racially motivated slang in the comments like referring to the President as Stinkle Barry or Odumbo. These have nothing to do with policy and are attacks on his race and physical appearance. But I do understand the frustration of those who simply disagree with the president

    September 30, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. pat todd

    Apparently Steele is yet another willfully ignorant individual who doesn't acknowledge that the death threats issued against President Obama exceed those against Bush by a factor of four.

    Some in America can't accept the reality of an intelligent and articulate person (that makes him an elitist, huh?) at the helm. So cling to your guns and assault weapons, which will no doubt compensate for your insecurities.

    September 30, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. TW in Nawlins

    Right...

    And when you have congressmen screaming "You lie" and calling the president an "enemy of humanity" they're just expressing themselves. God knows what these guys would say if Obama farts the wrong way. Do I hear impeachment?

    Steele is nothing more than a pawn.

    September 30, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Kitchen Police

    Let's stop calling each other names and establish a country with civil discourse.

    September 30, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Bill Cravens

    We have a nut job here, no doubt. But it is not Tom Friedman.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Ya Right

    Dear Mr. Steele: You ask "Where do these nut jobs come from?" I'd suggest stepping back and taking a look at the political party to which you belong. Seems that there are a fair number of vocal nut jobs there. (Give Trent Franks a call, or talk to the party leaders: Rush, Beck, Palin...)

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Tommy

    Yeah, putting a poll out on Facebook asking how many people would like the President killed is just protesting against the administration.

    Steele and other republicans may try to come across as moral and religious, but they will be roasting in Hades come Judgement Day.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Elbert

    Well lets see.... the opposition to Bush led to everything from hand grenades to shoes being thrown at him. The worst Obama has had to deal with has been insults.

    Yeah I guess your right. All this free speech against the President is dangerous. Maybe we should suspend the Constitution and make laws preventing such "harsh" language.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Jack

    Michael is so deep into chewing that oreo cookie he can't tell what's real and what's not.

    Learn to read Michael – the birthers – the pictures of Obama being painted as Hitler.

    And learn to open your ears Michael – the President of the United States being called a liar by a member of congress in open session in his first term in office while making a speech about proposing legislation.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. Brandon

    There are many levels of debate: reasoned, resoned with intesity and then there are the "birthers" unreasonable borderline insane. These are the people Friedman is taking about and these are the people we need to watch out for.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. EEEEEEEEDIOT

    WOW- that's funny. A republican telling someone to be rational!!

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. James Joyce

    Yes. And while George W. Bush was president a movie was made in Canada and shown in this country about the assasination of Mr. Bush while he was president. Did anyone on the left think this should not be happening?

    September 30, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. David Johnson

    A party that, through it's surrogates, incites far right wing entities that further incite the even more far right lunatic fringe to lawlessness must be intimately linked to that lawlessness and be recognized as similarly driven.

    Given the Republican party enbrace of the lunatic fringe, other indirectly sanctioned hate-driven formulas are sure to be bubbling up from bottom of this moral swamp and it is anyone's guess when and which lunatic will heed the swamps rotten call.

    September 30, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Steven

    If Michael Steele can't see that the level of hate coming from the radical conservative/christian right is taking us closer every day to a very violent explosive situation then he's just blind fool. Keep drinking that Beck/Limbaugh cool aid Michael.

    September 30, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Brian

    Michael, you're an idiot if you think the reasons people are showing so much hatred for our president are purely policy-based.

    September 30, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. hobart

    Let's see, Mr. Steele, where do these crazy ideas come from?

    How about this? They come from Republican politicians and pundits who, for lack of useful ideas, deliberately violate the 9th Commandmend and bear false witness against the president with such outrageous lies as: claiming he wasn't born in the US, claiming he's a Nazi, claiming he's a Socialist, claiming he's a Communist, claiming he's a terrorist, claiming he hates white people, claiming he's going to take our guns away, claiming he's enlisting the Census Bureau to round up dissenters into concentration camps. It's not that hard to connect the dots between that pack of lies and the fact that it does result in such treasonous public speech as threats of violence, secession from the Union, and civil war.

    Why did Republicans abandon the good ideas they once had, and embrace instead such hatred for America?

    September 30, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Pam in Florida

    Duh! What do you think all this hate monging and fear monging by Republicans is going to lead to?

    They incite violence… just like McCain/Palin rallies in 2008. Remember?

    Republicans attract the nut jobs.

    September 30, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Reality Check

    Thomas Friedman-best selling author, 3 Pulitzer Prizes, syndicated newspaper column, Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis, Master's from Oxford, visiting professor at Harvard. Need I go on.?

    Michael Steele-Maryland politico, lawyer to be sure and what else, but one of the chief negative "spouters" of the GOP. Nut job? You decide.

    September 30, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Lori in St Pete

    Takes one to know one Mikey!

    September 30, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. rapotat

    We all know why you were picked as RNC Chair, Mr. Steele.

    Why is it that the GOPers have been able to say and do pretty much anything they like these past nine months, yet when questioned over their tactics, they get all huffy and try to redirect the negativism as if it's coming from the left or center, but never from themselves? The party of dementia is getting sillier and sillier.

    Quite laughable really.

    September 30, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. Jay C.

    Friedman's observations are correct. Steele is in denial and could more appropriately be labled a "nut job."

    September 30, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Wake Up

    Steele is half right. It's a nutty comment, but this is the left-wing strategy right now. Call names. Call oppositiion raciest. Espouse fear. This is a nutty strategy, but it is being carefully implemented by Obama and his minions.
    Left-wingers policies are radical, and wrong, so they don't want to debate issues, just create fear and call names. Scary times, my friends!

    September 30, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Cincinnatian

    tomorrow, sarah palin's second cousin is going to disney world. i bet CNN will cover it live!

    September 30, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Ken

    Ah, a true Republican... back to the basics of name-calling.

    A person of Steele's position should be providing a more professional response than to start calling folks nutjobs... sounds like another person who's been brainwashed by Rush.

    September 30, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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