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. RTB

    Mr. Steele is as phoney as he talks and looks as bright as he is not.

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. SNAPPA

    Well, if that ain't ironic. If anyone would know what a nutjob is it would be a republican. No doubt.

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. Dennis

    I have to agree with Steele. According to Friedmanthe farther in debt we are the better.

    September 30, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Libby

    Pot, meet kettle.

    September 30, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. truthful in NC

    Mr .STEELE. you are the nut case, those people have got you out front to do there dirty work and you are to stupid to realize that. go find a better job because you are just being used by the GOP. as there little nut case and you don"t even see it. I am praying for you .

    September 30, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Mario, mtl, ca.

    Steele is a poster for the gops that's all

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. Bill, Bloominton IL

    This is getting tiresome that anybody who disagrees with the president is racist and now violent. This writer should be canned but what else would be expected from our yellow journalistic media.

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. cass

    Obama receives five times as many death threats a day as GWB did. And while liberal opposition to Bush indeed ran deep and wide and passionate, and often enough crossed over into lunatism, the liberals aren't the ones who show up with assault guns. In the US, assassination of presidents has always been a right-wing affair. Steele should use his position to reign in the crazies, not to wink at them - he's making Friedman's point.

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Doug

    I fear the side that claims to have God in their corner. This type of sentiment seems to be what can allow someone to make the deep commitment to take drastic, sometimes violent, action against the opposition. While anyone is capable of harming another, it seems all too scarey that some think that God wills them to commit such violence. And for that thought, it is easy for me to agree with the NYT columnist.

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. John in UT

    Speaking of "nut jobs," Mr. Steele, let's take a head count and see how many there are on the conservative side, shall we? I dare ya!

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Greg Smith

    There are some discussions that are over the line and some that are not. There seems to be more that are over the line lately. Mr. Steele doesn't seem to recognize those because to recognize them would mean that their cause would need to be explored and the Republicans don't want to go there. Denial is always the first defense.

    September 30, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Ernesto

    Only if you are intellectually deaf could you call Tom Friedman a nut job! Steele certainly falls into this category. I get racist and inflamatory emais full of hate for our President forwarded from true nut-jobs regularly. It's interesting that Steele tries to portray himself as a reasonable person when he is leading the pitchfork and torch-carrying mob against Obama.

    September 30, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Justin

    "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."

    You also didn't have people bring assault rifles to rallies.

    September 30, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Steve

    Yeah.... Where in the world would these 'nut jobs' get an idea like that? Oh, how about from things like when Arizona Rep. Trent Franks called Obama an 'enemy of humanity?'

    How about the propagation of the whole born in another country myth?

    etc. etc.

    September 30, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. Doug

    If there is anyone who should know a nut job when he sees one, it's this bozo.

    September 30, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. Jake

    We're still waiting for any constructive criticisms for the new administration. Anyone? Beuhler? GOP? Anyone?

    Or are you going to continue your little tantrums and name calling for those with whom you disagree?

    We independents are keeping score. You still haven't attempted to become part of the solution.

    September 30, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  17. vicky from Milwaukee

    Steele thinks the reporter is a "nutjob". A you-know-what calling the kettle black.

    September 30, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. ran

    Only time will tell who is right and I hope Friedman is not; but I do not think his observations and conclusions are off.

    We just had an investigation of a face book incident about "if Obama should be killed"

    This kind of behavior needs to stop now.

    Yes one can disagree with another without the hate that is being generated out there. But with far right talk like "you lie"/ the face book thing/posters depicting the President as Hitler/witch doc. only leads to the possibility of some "nut job" doing something crazy.

    September 30, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. mike

    "... I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position..."

    How hypocritical coming from a Republican leader who would not publicly (or privately, as far as I know) denounce the "death panel" fearmongering and protest banners of our president with Nazi imagery. The double talk and lies are so offensive.

    September 30, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Sid Vicious

    Mr. Friedman was absolutely right on point with his opinion on this matter. Why am I not surprised the GOP chairman disagrees with him!

    September 30, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. Mark Cross Junction VA

    New York Time writers are individuals that didn't have enough talent to write for rags like the National Inquirer.

    September 30, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. James

    Steele would know a nutjob, his whole party is full of them.....himself included......homey!

    September 30, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Chris

    Where were the concerns of the liberals when George Bush was being subjected to far worse things on a daily basis? The NY Times is finished as a newspaper with journalistic integritry. They are just a left wing blog at this point. Pretty sad.

    September 30, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Tim

    Steele is an idiot. he is being used and he has no clue. Once his usefulness is gone he will be cast out. I say good riddance!!!

    September 30, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. DaveM

    Michael Steele lacks any sort of credibility and is considered a joke amongst his own party. He was put in place a a token black in a failed attempt to portray the GOP as an inclusive party. Their is a reason most African Americans are Democrats – the Dems ARE an inclusive party and attempt to accomplish things for the black community. The GOP, not so much...

    September 30, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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