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. Dan

    Yeah. Tom Friedman. Only one of the most respected columnist in the nation.

    Look in the mirror, GOP. Friedman's a nutjob and Beck, Rush, etc. are, what, voices of reason?

    The GOP has definitely gone off the deep end.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. David

    It is amazing how dangerous the GOP have become to this country. Someone speaks the honest truth and they are a nut job. A person says they are going to kill someone and they are just frustrated and angry. Does the GOP really listen to what they say? They are creating the nut jobs and right now they have not done any good for this country since they lost and have pouted about it for long enough.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Scott

    Steele doesn't understand that liberals who opposed Bush aren't the right-wing wingnuts who shout out town halls, carry shotguns to presidential visits and are a part of the "Redneck Revolution" that is in control of the Republican party right now. Those tree-hugging anti-war liberals were of no physical threat whereas these Christian wananbe racists of the right WILL pull a trigger. I hope to God it doesn't come to that but coming to think of it I really can see a tea party wacko doing that.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Bob

    Tom Friedman is an "ironicast" (new word: somebody that is a king of personal irony). As he spouts off about the poor political climate facing Obama, he seems oblivious to the fact that he personally created a huge amount of ill will during the Bush administration.

    Mr. Friedman should be the poster boy for the "Kettle calling the pot black" society.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Dan

    Oh, and it's "deep-seated".

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. ran

    I forgot to mention Franks' "enemy of humanity" statement. Friedman is more right then wrong and Steele is more wrong then right.

    People we need to stop this hate/fear before it does get out of hand.

    Our elected officials need to lead the way.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Dahlia

    I would love to have a one and one with talk with Michael Steele. I would to ask him what planet has he been living on. Also, he needs to wake up and start acting like he has some sense.

    September 30, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. Nick The Photographer

    And how many people are in jail currently because they were plotting attempts to assassinate Obama? Last I had heard it was somewhere around 45 just since Nov. 2008. Yah Steele, you're the "NUT JOB!"

    SELL OUT!

    September 30, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. GP

    Threats against the president are up 400% over that of Bush. The pundits on the right, spewing their vitriol and vile, are in an intentionally choreographed operation with the RNC.

    The RNC publishes their daily politic talking points and the pundits on their cable news outlet read these talking points, sans identifying their origins, thus passing these items off as news.

    The RNC is playing with fire. Plausible deniability is a limited defense, and it is growing thinner by the day.

    September 30, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. nora

    The difference is people are saying that Obama doesn't have the RIGHT to be President (the birthers) among other things. They show up with AK-15 assault rifles at his speeches. People who wore T-SHIRTS against Bush were arrested.

    Has he even WATCHED any of the "tea parties" on tv?? Has he seen the reaction of these people to a duly elected President with a HUGE margin of victory??

    He apparently doesn't get it. Gee, why am I not surprised??

    September 30, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. royalld

    I my opinion, Mr Steele is rather pathetic.

    September 30, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. Bubble of Sanity

    Well, whether you like Steele or not (the jury is out), you have to give him positive points for this. Most NYT columnists are borderlline nut jobs. Some make it all the way, including Friedman. Friedman was not alarmed at the books and internet sites advocating the assassination of George W. Bush. He had no problem with the "award-winning" movie about Bush's assassination.

    Friedman is, at best, bi-polar, but probably, he's just biased. Oh, and a nut job.

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Steele is a moron.... anyone can see that the "political climate" is dangerous and that the loony, NUT JOB right-wingers are capable of anything.

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  14. Woodmont

    As usual the irony of Michael Steele's remarks is not very obvious to him. Is this NOT the same man, who just yesterday thought it was politically appropriate to criticize President Obama for wasting his time on bringing the 2016 Olympics TO the United States for the 2016 games???

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. ezra

    Steele is being very coy here. He and his right wing cronies try their best to whip up fear and hatred for the prsident and coach people on how to disrupt meeting and prevent rational discourse and then plead ignorance and innocence about the havoc they are causing and the hate they stir up. Steele is pathetic.

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. minnie

    Remember all the hate, anger and unrest ...
    remember Milk and Moscone.
    Too often hate leads to violence.

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. Right Leaning Independent

    Steele is 100% correct in these statements. Opposition to policy does not equate to a violent future. Far left wing liberals hated Bush as much as Far Right wing conservatives hate Obama. While many believe that Obama is the second coming of God, there are those of us that just disagree(with non-violent intentions) with his policies! He is too Liberal and too enabling for many of us...

    September 30, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. Death Assurance Companies

    The more I see of talking heads like Steele,the more I wish John McCain had won and taken this country into a full fledged depression.Just who would they be blaming then?Im tired of seeing the Dems having to cleanup the mess after the "Rightwing Corporate Fascists" run the country into the ground and then get kicked out when the cleanup is over.This isnt a two party system,its just one party with a cleanup lady,WAKEUP AMERICA.

    September 30, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Doug

    I was introduced to a friend of a friend a couple days ago and when left the bar we walked past a cut-out of President Obama in a store front. He said: "Man I wish I had one of those for target practice, only I wish it was the real thing". Then he started quoting Limbaugh. I'm still shocked. I didn't say another word to him for 30 minutes then left feigning illness. White guys with guns are dreaming of killing this President, and their bedtime stories are coming for the extreme right.

    September 30, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. dave

    Mr. Steele,very effectively, makes and confirms Mr. Friedman's point.

    September 30, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. D. D.

    Mr. Steele recognize someone having a meltdown moment. He needs to get back on the phone and dial Dancing for DeLay and hope he can help the GOP to dance their way back to the White House.

    September 30, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Jeff W.

    I agree that the GOP is creating a climate of hatred, just look at all the recent hate rallies, I mean, uh, "Tea Parties". Steele is an idiot.

    September 30, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. tochi

    The nut jobs are in Mr Steels's party or corner(Fox News). These nut jobs hide behind rocks during right wing regime and come out in full bloom as soon as democrats take office.

    September 30, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Wingnuttia-Free Zone

    Steele would certainly recognize a nut job when he sees one...in the mirror.

    Friedman: highly respected around the globe.

    Steele: just another GOP clown.

    September 30, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Gallimimus

    Name calling from the head of the GOP. Talk about calling the kettle black. If the shoe fits.

    September 30, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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