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. Susan

    This is just more of the same from the GOP, and unfortunately, many people believe them. The agenda of discrediting news that is not in line with political ideology is as hold as the hills. But the GOP has gone way beyond what is reasonable in order to manipulate people who think they are educated on the issues, but aren't.

    September 30, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Jasoninpa10

    I must say that this is downright insulting that every day it seems some new liberal is casting dissenters of the administration as crazies. It just seems totally absurd to them that people could be angry with far-left policies. America is a right of center country, and this is why the news outlets are losing ratings. To Pelosi, Reid, this NYT idiot, Carter: SHUT UP! It's an ostensible attempt to discredit criticism. Bush had PLENTY of people protesting and complaining about his administration too, yet noone ever accused them of inciting riots.

    September 30, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. Jerry

    The birthers, the allusions to Hitler, Death Panels, charges of anti-Americanism,displaying weapons at public meetings, the overblown hyperbole, etc. The Republican leadership have been very slow to distance themselves from the loonier members of their party, because they see political benefit in the chaos. The truly dangerous nutjobs take this as encouragement. Steele and his associates are playing with fire.

    September 30, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. RayinIN

    pot meet kettle...

    September 30, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. P. D.

    Steele calling someone else a 'Nut-job'? That's funny coming from him. He suffers from, 'Open mouth, insert foot'.

    September 30, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Tom in Delaware

    Speaking of Nut Jobs...the Obama Death Poll poster on Facebook is a Democrat from Chicago now living in the San Francisco Bay area...go figure.

    Just like the Denver DNC window-smasher and the 'Obama-Joker' poster guy in LA...both Lefists.

    September 30, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Langley

    Hey Steele say that to the family members of the census worker that was found hanging from a tree in a cemetery with the word Fed written on his chest! The hate the GOP feeds to its least educated and extreme members is coming back to bite it. So next time some right wing nut job shoots into a church or a nursing home lookin for liberals, the country won't be surprised!

    September 30, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Jose

    When Bush was in office, anyone against what he did was unpatriotic. So I guess now that the shoe is on the other foot, the repugs don't like that. I don't mind disagreement but when you have facebook polls asking whether obama should be killed and other things that are being said, is that appropriate? Keep it up repugs and there will be an attempt on the President's life. Not a good thing, regardless of your views.

    September 30, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Peace

    Hey Steele, being a Chairman does not mean that you are there to just hold the title and let everyone say or act the way they want.
    A lot of people have noticed some behavior which are not acceptable and you want to silence them and turn a blind eye as you do. It is not right!

    September 30, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Nik Kripalani

    Mr. Steele.
    Sir, I understand the frustration and yes we do disagree with the policies from the right. When you had George W. Bush as president, that's probably what got the left angry for not winning 2000 election and 2004.

    I disagree about the public option been voted down, I support that, if I get sick on the job, my company can only cover me up till the end of the year, after that I have to pay. Leave Medicare alone. You guys have done anything about Climate Change have you? That is why the Liberals are mad at your side.

    My Point Tom was right and you accuse him of everything. Tom will have every right to accuse the other side as well, because you left us with this mess and Obama has to clean it up.

    September 30, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. AJ

    "approach it from a rational position"

    Well thats a bit of an ironic statement coming from a republican. When was the last time anyone remembers a republican making any decision not based on fear and hate?

    September 30, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Mark

    These people carry around signs portraying President Obama as Hitler, Chairman Mao, Stalin, the Devil, and a witchdoctor, scream like lunatics at rallies, and bring weapons to places where the President is scheduled to speak, and they don't believe that may incite violence? That proves just how nuts they actually are. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS – MORONIC REPUBLIFASCISTS!!!

    September 30, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. Jeff G

    ..."Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this," Steele told CNN's John Roberts...

    Perhaps Mr. Steele needs to heed the words of Luke 6:41 - ""Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

    Mr. Steele should aim his concerns at the "nut jobs" on his side of the aisle that are fanning the flames.

    September 30, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Rumsfeld

    Mr. Steele speaks from a level of credibility that goes deep....not. You poor GOP puppet. Don't you wish you had your own brain?

    September 30, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Mike in NYC

    Friedman's column was entitled "Where Did ‘We’ Go?"

    The US as a "we" hasn't existed for a long time, thanks in part to the ethnic grievance politics practiced by Obama and his ilk, and overlooked in the name of "tolerance" by the faux conservatives in the GOP.

    Personally, I can remember numerous instances of black politicos threatening violence, implicitly or explicitly, to get their way.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  16. ZenInBlack

    Then how does Steele explain Franks statement that the president is "the enemy of humanitity". Mr. Steele is a shill for the GOP. Just like so-called conservative movements of the past, the GOP fosters dissent based on finding small-minded individuals who will "act alone' to give them pausible deniability when violent things happen. The GOP needs these distractions while they sabotage health care, financial reform, and line their pockets with corporate kickbacks.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Ryan

    It's no different from what the left is doing – Carville, Dean, WJ Clinton, Schumer. Tit for tat.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. phoenix86

    The entire staff of the New York Times are raving far left fringe bangers. That newspaper is nothing more than a DNC mouthpiece.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. worriedmom

    It really makes me wonder if the Left wants something to happen to our President. They keep vocaling this type of talk only adding fuel to the fire of those that are extremeists. I thought these Lefties were suppose to be peaceful people. All they have shown is how hateful and violent they can be. G20 was a good example.
    People I dont agree with the Obama administration policies but I would never wish upon anyone any harm. they are still a human being and a Child of God.
    Stop the hateful speech and terrible accusations.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. eric

    Why is the headline to this story about Steele calling Friedman a nutjob? Why isn't the headline about Friedman's story being ridiculous and infantile?
    "conservative opposition to President Obama is creating a political climate that may foreshadow attempts of violence against the commander-in-chief." are you kidding me?
    So we are no longer allowed to oppose our president for fear we may create a negative climate? Friedman is a nutjob and to you CNN I would say I can't even stomach your bias any longer. At least make an attempt to be fair.

    September 30, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. What have we come to?

    The NY Times said this? No, surely not....It is an objective and balanced newspaper, right? If this wasn't the case, we'd expect to see readership and advertising tanking, right?

    I'd find this story and so-called 'newspaper' the least bit credible if the Times would produce copies of any kind of criticism aimed it printed against those who spread hatred and so viciously threatened the previous president. All this concern for the wellbeing of the president and calls for respect for the office of president are laudible and AT LEAST NINE YEARS TOO LATE.......!

    September 30, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. Luke

    Steele disagrees with everything. It's his job.

    September 30, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  23. Melissa

    I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to kill him yet with all the hatred, fear, and war that the Republicans are stirring. It scares the crap out of me that the Republicans have so much power even when they aren't in power, and that no one is trying to stop them.

    September 30, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. Fed Up

    So, Is Michael Steele a Racist because he too disagrees with Obamas policies?? End of the loons theory right there.

    September 30, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Bob

    Mr. Steel needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Just spend one day listening to talk radio and you'll hear the right wing waco's spewing their hate for Obama,. And it's not his ideas they argue against., but rather the man himself. The tone of the opposition has changed since this man became president. It is more ugly and personal. Yes there was opposition when Bush was president but people weren't carrying weapons to his public events, and town hall meetings weren't turning into professional wresting matches. There is an undercurrent of hate for this man that is being propgated by some on the right because they are devoid of ideas and feel it's the only way tcan stop him. It's a dangerous tactic for the Republicans and for our country.

    September 30, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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