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. Broward

    Steele is correct in the fact that the same animosity, of not a greater level of hatred and excessive vitriol, was directed at President Bush and there was never a worry that it would lead to violence. A filmmaker even made a movie where President Bush was assassinated (ah yes, the moral compass of the same film industry who is now so solidly and vocally supporting Polanski!) and there was nary a voice of caution and reason from the media. But then, I guess that Steele is a racist because he is a Republican.

    September 30, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. YOU NEVER POST MY COMMENTS... HMMM WONDER WHY

    Tom Friedman? Oh, come on, anybody what was an ENRON ADVISOR is OK in my book... ooh those silly ENRON guys!

    September 30, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Maria from VT

    Where did this Nut Job come from

    September 30, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. Amazing

    Ah, The New York Times.............the most liberal rag around. You can never expect honesty from them. If you want one sided reporting and only 1/2 the news, read it. Guess that's why nobody reads it.

    September 30, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Marie MD

    Once again Steele is wrong. While many people, me included, were not happy with the bush years in the WH, I never once thought that killing the president was the way to go.
    Unfortunately, starting with the quitter from Alaska during the campaign and continuing with limbaugh and hannity and beck and coulter, the hatred is spewing from the pores of many Americans who don't believe in the President or the US in general.
    I wish the media would run stories from the repuglicans that really show the hatred. We have to watch Jon Stewart to find out all the crap that is going on. This includes a teacher and some kids singing a song about Obama when after Katrina Mrs. Bush did the same with some children and there was no outcry.
    Until one of our elected officials grows some and repudiates these attacks they will continue. Shame on the gop.

    September 30, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Trueman in Toronto

    Oh please, nobody brought assault weapons to Bush's rallys, nor did people openly disrespect him during house addresses. The opposition has hit a whole new level of hate and discord, and is doing its best to indoctrinate this antagonism into the electorate. Is Obama really the "enemy of humanity", as Trent Franks recently put it, for wanting everybody to have affordable health insurance? Bush started two wars and did nothing to prevent the economic collapse that his party started... and it's Obama who's worse than Hitler?

    September 30, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  7. Johnny

    You have the Sean Hannitys of the world who want Barack Obama dead but are too coward to do it themselves. So they spend their days altering his image and motivating the crazies hoping that one would rise up and kill him. Then you have the Michael Steeles who give them cover.

    September 30, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Florida Joe

    STEELE calling someone a "nut job"?? WOW
    Mr Steele it is time you took responsiblity for your reckless agitaion of the right wing nutjobs.............True passions usually to not need a Faux News producer to rile up the crowd during taping of a protest...........The Repubs are just PATHETIC

    September 30, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  9. cakediva

    Is this man from this planet??? Who is paying him to say these things?

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. steve

    Steele,
    You would be surprised to see how fast the Republican Party would dump you at the end of this propaganda / smear campaign .
    They know they can at least use an uncle Tom for the face of their dirty and virulent attacks on President Obama.

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. katn

    Well let's see. The Republicans have called our president a Marxist,a socialist, communist, an illegal alien, and accused him of trying to destroy the country, indoctrinate children, build concentration camps for political opponents, oh and kill grandma. All nonsense, of course.
    And Republicans really don't think that the emotionally marginal, scared, angry people who make up their base might think it would be an act of courage to murder our president.
    Mr. Steele, you are either a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool.

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Bradley

    Read this quote: "Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible," – John L. Perry, Newsmax.

    Sounds like Steele and his right wing allies are the real nut-jobs

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. SCOTT O'CANADA

    I totally agree with Friedman on this one. The far right are more than capable with their inclusive "anybody but Obama" mentality and I'm convienced someone will try something, whether sucessful or not. If that does occur, it would literally be the death of the Republican party as we know it. Their continued aggresive rhetoric would be the catalyst and the rest of the rest of the world will know it. And once again, Steele has provided evidence that he is incapable of seeing beyond his nose.

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Ben in Texas

    "Where do these nut jobs come from?"

    Most of them come from the Repugnant party, Mr. Steele.

    September 30, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. Ellid

    Those who think that Friedman is exaggerating should go read William Manchester's =The Death of a President,= about the Kennedy assassination. The sort of heated rhetoric and irrational hatred of a Democratic President is frighteningly similar to the "Obama is Hitler" and "Obama is a Marxist" signs seen at all the allegedly patriotic tea party rallies. I only pray that we're spared a second taste of the national agony that followed the events of November 22, 1963.

    September 30, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Joseph B

    Friedman was rational and made some very good points in his opinion piece. Perhaps Steele should look at the facts, take a deep breath and then look in the mirror.

    September 30, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Darlene

    You have to be a idiot not to be able to see and hear all of the racism that is raising it's ugly head out of these people. I do not hear them condemning all the awful things that are being said about our President as far as racism goes. But they thought it was treasonous of ANY criticism of GW Bush. Not only that but if you listen closely ...they hardly ever refer to the President as Mr. President ..just Obama...

    September 30, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Impeach the Joker

    Friedman and the NYT are extremely biased liberals. Everyone knows this, and unless you are libera, people ignore Friedman and the NYT.

    Friedman is a pathetic excuse of a journalist, so who cares what he writes in his column.

    Likewise, did poor little SNO-bama get his iddy biddy feelings hurt because MOST people (see polls) don't agree with his socialist, deficit increasing policies.

    SAY NO TO SOCIALISM
    SAY NO TO THE INCREASING DEFICIT
    SAY NO TO NEW TAXES
    IMPEACH OBAMA AND THE OTHER DUMocRATS

    September 30, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  19. Dave

    Steele didn't even read the column. I don't know why I even have to continue with this train of thought - read the column, and you'll know that Steele isn't even addressing it. He's making a straw man.

    September 30, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. Jacques

    I guess what goes around comes around. The Democrat excesses with special prosecutors begat Ken Starr. The left wing hatred of Bush (e.g., 9/11 truthers) has given us the right wing hatred of Obama. Look at how the left has reacted to Sarah Palin; if they believed she was not qualified to be VP, then wasn't the civilized thing to do simply to vote for Obama? Why did all the venom need to be displayed? Why did Clarence Thomas need to be lynched (high tech) when a simple "no" vote would have sufficed? The hatred displayed by the left feeds the hatred of the right, and vice versa.

    September 30, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. John, Long Island, NY

    The Chairman does not have the courage to admit that his party is in the hands of crazies on the far right.

    September 30, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. DaveinCincinnati

    Of course...anyone who dares oppose President Obama and the left is either racist, or violent. Good grief...I can't wait until the elections. Say goodbye you democrat nut jobs. The NYT is nothing more than a left wing agenda on print. Worthless...

    September 30, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  23. Linda

    Mr. Steele – no one worried about violence when Bush was in office because it was progressives and liberals who opposed Bush's policies – in other words the opposition was by people who are not violent. The opposition to President Obama is accompanied by an increase in gun sales as well as an increase in the number of "incidents" reported by the Secret Service. Your "party" does have violent people who follow the rhetoric of Beck and Limbraugh among its supporters. Finally, your "party" does not know how to live in a true democracy because when they lose they are poor losers who will stop at no length to regain their power. Do not expect any thinking person to stop being vigilent – sorry guy you associate with a violent and ignorant people as the "base" of your movement. Get a reality check.

    September 30, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  24. marlene

    Michael Steele should wake up to the fact that the Republicans are inciting people against Obama mainly because of his race. And since Michael Steele is black he should recognize this. The Republicans should stop their attacks against President Obama. It is not good for the country. The President is only trying to bring this country together and work for the good of the country. However, the Republicans oppose him at every turn and I don't see that changing. Maybe they should wake up and realize that they are only hurting themselves.

    September 30, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. Stuart L. Riley

    Mr. Steele, You are correct to tell people to stop this.

    But, you need to address this to the conservative "pundits" who incite people using lies and distortions.

    In case you need it, here's a list of people you can request to "stop it" to get you started: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

    Let us know when you and other Republicans are ready to make this request. I'm ready to hear it when you do.

    September 30, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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