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. djconklin

    I've found that when people start labeling others that they are projecting their own inadequacies. Its like people who bring guns to political events–they do so because they feel inadequate to have an open and honest debate (partly because they aren't honest). Watch and see if you see the same.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. bam

    Steele knows good and well that the lies broadcast by the rightwing are inciting mobs and producing death threats against the democratically elected President of the United States. Hey, if they can't win in a legitimate election, they'll ruin it for everyone else.

    Being in the mental health field has shown me that it doesn't take much to set off mentally unstable individuals – people prone to either suicide or homicide. I truly think that this is the intent behind the "leaders" of the rightwing - that sooner or later one of the Limbaugh or Fox robots will find a way to assassinate the greatest President we've had in generations.

    It's not entirely about race. No, money is probably the greater evil at the root of the neocon assault on Democracy.

    September 30, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Gus The Willie

    Chicken Little a.k.a as Micheal Steele is the real nut job in this Independent's book. This Uncle Tom has been trying so hard to apease his handlers, the other Republican nut jobs that his actions has only fueled his handlers' need for racial purity within their ranks, and that of the right wing Christian movement in this country. As long as Chicken Little is the token mouth piece for the GOP and other right wing ultraconservatives, we will continue to impeded any progress this country has made towards racial equality.

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

    This guy is the crazy person. He has never succeeded at anything significant. He's just the like the black guy el Rush Bat uses to hurl racial slurs at the President. Who is listening to this guy besides Faux News? What are the polls saying about his popularity? I bet the answers are nobody with at least a 9th grade education, and less than 25% approval.

    September 30, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. Paul Abeln

    Could Michael Steele be more clueless? The right wingnuts (Steele included) flame at every chance. They push their followers to say and do crazy things. Yes, Tom Friedman is right, the right wing nut jobs are being pushed to violence by Steele, Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck. And these jerks are too dumb to do a little introspection and realize the effects of their bloviating. The conservative era is over (Reagan through W) and a new liberal era has begun as we shall see again in the next election.

    September 30, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Sam Sixpack

    The crooks trying to steal grandma's life support have discovered the only way their scam can succeed is if they crush free speech.

    By the way, the only things in this health care "reform" scam for you are:

    1) a legal requirement that you pay all you can "afford" for health insurance;

    2) then, after you've paid all you can "afford," insufficient funds to cover your deductible for any actual health care; and

    3) watching the new "efficient" Medicare pull the plug on your grandma.

    September 30, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Phoebe

    Michael Steele apparently sees no connection between the rabble rousing against anything related to Obama, the presence of guns at rallies and the facebook poll. Fear and hate-mongering are rampant, and yes, this does conribute to a more violent atmosphere. This is way more vicious than mere "conservative opposition".

    September 30, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. tony ny

    Steele you have the gal to call Mr friedman a nut job what about all your leaders on the far right hannity, rush limpbaugh, glenn beck michelle backwardman, sarah palin,and yourself. I started out saying that people are genuinely concerned about things in our country, and it is not motivated by race, but as time go by I just cannot say race is not a part of this discourse any longer, we still have people who areharping on the President's citizenship, people with signs to bury Obama with Kennedy, we have to take our country back from who the blackman. I am digusted with you Mr steele every time you open your big mouth. cnn i dare you post this you will not because you all are now right wingers.

    September 30, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Ed

    Repeating every insult hurled is not reporting the news. CNN seems to be about creating a circus for the sake of supporting their ratings an ad revenue rather than taking a look at the serious issues that face our nation.

    September 30, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. Cathy

    steele is a nut job

    September 30, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. ConsiderThis-FL

    There's nothing wrong with "deep passions." However, EVERYTHING is wrong with "deep passions" OUT OF CONTROL AND UNCHECKED!

    September 30, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. Tim

    The only thing Steele is wrong about is that he didn't label everyone at the Times a nutjob.

    But then Steele is just a racist, go ask Dowd.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. democrat in Wisconsin

    Michael Steele apparently didn't read Friedman's article. Most of the Republican party agrees with Friedman on this one.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. Sir Pico

    "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."

    Aren't actions like this grounds for a Secret Service investigation and possible criminal proceedings?

    More than one internet user/blogger faced criminal charges based on threatening internet postings during Bush's presidency. I agree with Steele that "racism" charges and theories on possible assassination attempts shouldn't be thrown about lightly, but occurrences/statements like these need to be taken seriously. Some of the things said about Obama at these town hall meetings concerning healthcare were very alarming in their almost casual encouragement of violence against the president, and those who say/encourage/spread them should be held accountable.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. Reny

    Why dont Steel speak out about the Republican racist nutjobs? He is just a token. Once Obama is out of office, they are going to throw him away too.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. michael

    Chairman Steele has missed the entire point of the column. Why am I not surprised. To quote Mr. Steele:

    "[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.

    The column was about the DIFFERENCE between disagreeing on policy and calling the President an "enemy of humanity" and defacing him to look like Adolf Hitler or the Joker. The republican party has become so clueless that I have to wonder if it is on purpose.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. CoolGayDad

    The truth HURTS huh Republicans? Michael Steele calling Thomas Friedman a "nutjob" is like Osama bin Laden calling Mother Theresa a Terrorist. Where did the Republicans come up with this loser? They have nothing to contribute and nothing to offer to the betterment of our nation. Tea Bagger = Racist and there is nothing they can say to convince thinking Americans otherwise. Thinly veiled promotion of violence is just that Republicans...thinly veiled.

    September 30, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. Scott

    Where do these nut jobs come from, Mr. Steele? Precisely, and your party is feeding them.

    September 30, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  19. Roland

    He seems to forget that there was a man hiding in a school with a weapon on his person before Obama was to give a speech.

    September 30, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. Larry Clark

    Mr. Steele's viewpoint is, of course, the problem. Why would anyone expect him to be considered, let alone considerate.

    September 30, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  21. Bob

    It is unpatriotic and to criticize a sitting President while we are at war. At least that is what I've been told for the last 8 years.

    September 30, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. KJ

    I hope he is also referring to the nut jobs within his own party on some of the insane comments thay have been making!

    September 30, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  23. Anonymous

    I agree with Tom Friedman. I think Michael Steele needs to step back and take control of the GOP.

    September 30, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. Seattle Sue

    And Steele is one of the right-wing radicals that fans the winds of hate against President Obama.

    September 30, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. Marv

    is Michele Backman a nut job or just stupid.

    September 30, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12