March 29th, 2010
06:39 AM ET
7 years ago

Republican: We need to respect anger about country's direction


Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, discussed the need for a more civil political discourse on Sunday's State of the Union. (Photo Credit: CNN)

Washington (CNN) – Commenting on the high-temperature political rhetoric of the last week and some incidents of violence and threats against lawmakers, a leading Senate Republican walked a fine line Sunday.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said “ugliness” ought to be condemned. And, at the same time, the Tennessee Republican said the nation’s leaders needed to “respect” the anger some have about the direction the country is headed in.

“There's no doubt there has been - the anger today is more visible,” Alexander told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “You can go to any Web site and see ugliness. It used to be beneath the surface and it's on top now, and it ought to be condemned.

Related: Anger over health care bill a sign of the times?

“But there's also a lot of real anger out there about the direction of the country. And we need to respect that and then conduct ourselves in a civil way, which I think we United States senators are capable of doing and did do this week.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, agreed with Alexander and had detailed advice about how to cool down the country’s political rhetoric.

“I have a suggestion,” Mikulski told Crowley on State of the Union. “Let's go back to the three R’s: respect, rules of engagement that promote decorum, and, number three, stop the rewards system that enables you to raise a lot of money after using outrageous and bizarre behavior.”

Asked about recent efforts by fellow Democrats to raise money in the wake of threats and vandalism directed at Democratic lawmakers who supported the health care bill, Mikulski called out members of her own party.

“I think it's stridency, whether it is from the right or the left. We need to lower the decibel level."

Earlier: Axelrod weighs in on Dem fundraising off of threats, violence

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Sylvia Umpierre

    The so-called "anger" has absolutely NOTHING to do with health care. That's just the GOP's talking point and usual distorsion of facts. It is nothing more than the republican base's temper tantrum of having lost an election and their usual "scapegoating" of blaming the government or the "liberals" for their own miserable individual existence. If the health care bill could exclude the goodies (i.e. acceptance with pre-existing conditions, etc.) for those opposing the bill, they would be screaming in the streets about socialism, tyranny, and Hitler. In the meantime, the GOP will continue the dangerous and irresponsible violence-inciting rethoric until we face another tragedy like Oklahoma City. If history is an indicator, they were fully successful at distancing themselves from that tragedy which cost 168 innocent lives. An once again, society (all of us) will not hold those who planted the seeds of the tragey accountable. Shame on us!

    March 29, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. James Miller

    Follow the money trail. These people are supported by a small group of super rich that will keep the Bush tax cuts at all costs. They would be happy paying nothing, and many are doing just that by banking out of the country, using tax loop holes that most tax payers are not afforded.

    March 29, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Steve

    Ugliness exists because there is a reason for it to exist. Remove the reason and the ugliness goes away, Senators. This particular ugliness exist for a particular reason, Senators. Wonder what we could do to find out just what that reason is, Senators? What would you suggest? Outlawing ugliness, as in passing new laws against same? Shooting into crowds as others have done before? Arresting people for ugliness? Prison sentences for ugliness, Senators. In my humble opinion it would be to remove the people in the senate that people are getting ugly about. But what do I know, I'm just a voter, Senators.

    March 29, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. Michelle

    Funny how they are demanding 'respect' for the right, when all they did to the left for 8 years when we were angry about spying, unjustified and unfunded wars, torture...was call us traitors and worse. And we never threw a brick, threatened or spit on a Congressman, or cut a gas line. But somehow, they are to be respected for their anger and threats? This is so typical of the right. "We are right, you are wrong. We may be the minority, but who cares? If we can't get our way in Congress, we will scare and threaten the other side, call for shootings, and they say we didn't mean it...we're for peace and respect." I know you guys don't actually read the Bibles you carry around, but did you ever hear, "Do unto others?" Didn't think so.

    March 29, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. Chut Pata

    First, the Republicans need to respect the mandate that American people had given to Obama.

    Second they need to understand that there was an even bigger anger, and growing, when people felt Obama was going back on his promise for health care reform, ending war, and regulating big businesses.

    It is Obama's choice. Be afraid of the anger of the minority who did not vote for him, or be afraid of the overwhelming majority who vited for him.

    March 29, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. Larry

    Lamar Alexander speak with forked tougue. He is a piece of dreck.

    March 29, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Adalbert

    What we desperately need is an intelligent discussion on the issues. Unfortunately today, lies and treats are dominating American politics fueled by despicable propaganda on TV and talk radio. These irresponsible agitators should be held responsible for their actions in stead of allowing them to make millions off of their misleading statements and lies.

    March 29, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. ART

    I'll tell you what i'am angry about, the Bush administration almost bankrupting our nation, funding a war that was absolutely a personal vandetta against Saddam Housain. The fact that you have morons out their who listen to the likes of that idiot Sarah Palin, the tea baggers,the xenaphobes, racist , and yes the party of do nothing unless it benefits big business

    March 29, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Tim

    Anger can be a good thing, it makes people take action that they would be unwilling to take otherwise. We not only need to respect the anger, we need to bring out the anger.

    Anger and violence are two completely different things. I'm often angry with my children, never violent.

    Too bad the radical white house is stoking the anger. They reap what they sew. Don't be ashamed of your anger, by angry about your anger.

    March 29, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. Linda

    I don't respect a rabid animal. And I don't respect incivility, or lawbreaking.

    March 29, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. yeah

    Wasnt it Lamar Alexander's Clinton era legislation that deregulated the financial sector? Didnt that deregulatuon lead to the recession? Shouldnt the "anger" felt by the tea party people be directed at folks like Mr. Alexander, who allowed the financial free for all?

    March 29, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Tim

    By the way, the violence comes from the left. There were death threats against Stupak if he didn't vote for healthcare. How many stories did CNN run on that?

    March 29, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Dano

    Sen. Alexander and the Repubs didn't seem to “respect” the anger Americans had about the direction the country was headed in during the dark years of Bush/Cheney. I guess that's because they were the ones directing it and their opponents weren't inciting violence against the government then. This just shows the difference between the parties and groups that support them.

    March 29, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |

    Respecting the anger is one thing; but how many are angry because they have the correct information?

    the right wing megaphones need to stop saying things that aren't true. there IS NO GOV'T TAKEOVER of anything.

    it's insurance reform. plain and simple.

    March 29, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. Christie

    I totally disagree with the opinion that we need to respect this mobs anger-these people are seffish and uninformed. They need to stop using the conservative newspapers and Fox news for their main source of information.

    This anger is manufactured by Dick Armey and the Republicans. The question is 45 million people who are uninsured and under insured need this insurance plan. So 45 million vs. 2 thousand people disagreement over the health care plan; I am siding with the 45 million people who need a life support plan.

    March 29, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Ticker Shock

    The blatant nastiness of some of our lawmakers is setting a bad example. I am just sitting here wondering who in congress will throw the first physical punch.
    VP Biden and his potty -mouth needs to grow up. And, Conservative Repubs. need to stop acting like spoiled children who need the help of Supernanny. I feel it won't be long until sessions of congress are Pay-per-View events with professional refs. I am disgusted with both parties and their growing lack of civility and forgetfulness as to why they are in office. It seems to me that their own personal financial wealth is all they truly care about.
    And, don't anybody try to tell me that racism is not 'alive and kickin' in 2010.
    I am an independent voter who is running out of choices to vote for.

    March 29, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |

    Repeatedly, Senators and House Representatives are so full of themselves that their is no room remaining to provide input from the masses. Self serving ultimately lends itself to personal destruction,contrary to the purpose they seek,which is to serve their constitutents. Or, so they epouse in unending rheortic.
    All of congress should awaken to the Clarion call and be reminded that they are dispensable. To hasten that call,most Americans are in agreement that all November 2010 Incumbents be evicted, to allow,at least for a short term, that a new batch of FreeLoaders be allowed to meander the hallowed Halls of Government. Its simply called," Share the Booty". Indeed , such a staid maxim that Power Corrrupts, holds true as from time memorial, proving Congressional longevity promotes present time evidence of corruption .Remember, Evict all Incumbents! James Melching, Springville, Cal.

    March 29, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. dennis

    Its just not rep but also dem that the people should be pissed off at. They ALL have no morals, integrity, etc I could go on and on. We as a coun try have never seen all these people and presidents that CHEAT on there wives. WHAT DOES THAT TEACH OUR KIDS. They say if the pres can do it and get away with it then why can't I. PEOPLE wake up and pull your heads out of your butts.

    March 29, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Alicia

    When the Republicans are not in the majority they are so unpatriotic. They only see anything as legitimate when they are in the majority.
    What about our anger when you shoved a war and tax cuts for the wealthy down our throats. Sold the country to your corporate donors?!


    March 29, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Brink

    Memo to Senator Alexander and GOP – Don't stoke the anger and then step away from it and say respect it. Try taking responsibility for your actions and hate speech.

    March 29, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. kathyb

    The "ugliness" Lamar Alexander refers to has been nurtured, encouraged, embraced, and applauded by the Republican Party and their spokespeople, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Glen Beck, and Rush Limbaugh. Alexander and his colleagues have tacitly supported the racism and bigotry that is at the heart of much of what the Tea Party and the far-right Republican Party is all about. Along the way, they've sold their own political souls. Whatever violence comes out of this subculture of Americans, who, by their own admission, don't even really know what's in the health care reform bill, will be at the feet of the Republicans.

    March 29, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Emmanuel Goldstein

    There is definitely anger, and it isn't just over health care. In times past, we didn't play a zero-sum political game where gains for one side meant losses for the other. Now the left has expanded federal law dramatically, and every major initiative has, at its core, legislation to redistribute wealth from those that earn it to traditional democratic constituencies.

    If the left thinks that the nation will stand for this simply because "they won", I suggest they put down their New York Times and look around.

    Oh, and they should move deeper into blue state america, preferably into Northeastern cities.

    March 29, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. realtips

    Respect a falsified and stoked anger, Senator Alexander? You have got to be kidding. This if it wasn't so pathetic would be comical. What the Republicvans want is for President Obama to capitulate to their way of thinking and cow-tow to their ideas and suggestions. But oh, I forgot their ideas are non-existend just like their healthcare bill. They wait for President Obama to act so that they can re-act. Since the ideas are non-existent, they fall back to giving ideas and a voice to the radical thinking individuals. The debate on healthcare showed how they fed the discontent.

    March 29, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Jeff

    The anger Senator Lamar wants us to respect has been the hate insighted by the Republicans cheering on protestors that are exhibiting violent actions. They appear to be taking their plays from Hitler's playbook and then try to downplay the hideous consequences that have been a result of their actions. Once again, they exemplify the behavior of not wanting to accept responsibility for their actions.

    March 29, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. th

    There can be disagreement but the Republicans have incited hatred and fighting with their speeches. Especially Palin.

    March 29, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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