September 30th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
11 years ago

Steele calls Tom Friedman a 'nut job' over latest column

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Roger

    Steele calling someone else a "nut job" isn't that the pot calling the kettle.........oh never mind he called him a "nut job" not incompetent.

    September 30, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. donmcybertect

    Mr. Steele, you wouldn't know a good idea if it camped out in your head. Go get some lessons from your party leader, Rush.

    September 30, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Obama fan...not!

    Obama is still using the campaign tactic of using surrogates to say things...the way Ferraro was used during the campaign

    September 30, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. tim nyc

    michael steele is completely oblivious. i have heard people threaten violence concerning our president when i'm standing in line to get coffee. it only takes one horrible person. glenn beck, anne coulter + sean hannity fuel these hateful outlooks. they are hoping that something terrible happens.

    September 30, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. Rob

    Steele is an incompetent nut job.

    September 30, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Nestor

    Steele your not part of the solution, your part of the problem.

    September 30, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Michael Chefalo

    "Enemy of Humanity". AREN'T those words contributing to a climate of hate and mistrust?

    Come on, Mr. Steele, Tom Friedman is spot on with his concerns. The opposition to this president has gone way beyond policy debate and crossed deeply into an area of personal animus. I have never experienced such a personally hostile political environment and fear for the safety of the president and the health of our democracy...

    September 30, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Jack Walden

    Tom Friedman's little finger can accomplish more in a day than this Republican knuckle head in a lifetime

    September 30, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Bill

    Michael Steele was almost expelled from Johns Hopkins University due to failing academic performance. According to validated reporting and vetted articles on Wikipedia, he was allowed to finish a degree in international relations only after taking emergency summer courses in Georgetown. Accordingly, I don't place too much creedence in his opinion on any topic. Also, he's the head of the GOP...what's he going to say??? This is a non-story.

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

    Mr. Steele – Before you say any more check out the comment by Republican representative Frank from Arizona who called President Obama "an enemy of mankind" – his comment not mine

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

    Takes one to Know one...

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

    The Republican party would have some credability if they agreed on anything! The party of "no" has become the party of nuts.

    September 30, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. Barry Weinstein

    The only "nut job" in this story is none other than RNC Committee chair, Michael Steel. We have a Republican running for Govonor in Virginia, who has introduced legislation ,on MANY occasions, to prohibit birth control to married couples, restrict a womans right to choose, and deny access to equal pay for for women in the workforce. It was also a part of his Masters thesis at Pat Robertsons University. Hes a Culture Warrior, so is Steel, and they are the ones along with FOX news who are perpetuating the response by Friedman.

    September 30, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. bush VICTIM

    Steele knows its true. The rethuglicans have fostered an environment of hatred, fear and violence!

    September 30, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  15. We Won Get Over It

    Look who's talking......A certified NUTSO calling some one else a nut. But then republicans, they see ever one else thru their eyes. And when you look at nuts all day you probably think everyone else is also.

    September 30, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Fernando

    Michael Steele, the GOP puppet. Did anyone read the comments posted in on the facebook article? It was scary to see the majority of comments coming from the conservative right, yes, the conservative right condoning the unthinkable. It makes me wonder how these people can call themselves Christians and go to Church on Sundays.

    September 30, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. CJL

    He (Michael Steele) is absolutely right. Live in reality people. Opposition to your ideas is only opposition. You can not stifle it by trying to mock it. You should seek to understand it and maybe the country would be a better place.

    September 30, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. republicans destroyed America!

    Where was all the republican hatred and opposition when bush was bankrupting and destroying this country???

    September 30, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. No Incumbents 2010

    Apparently Steele has not heard of GOP Rep. Franks who said Obama was an enemy of humanity. Steele has not heard of Glenn Beck who called Obama a racist. Steele has not seen the guns brought openly to town halls and public rallies in close proximity of public officials. Steele gives comfort to those with vitriolic expressions of their sentiments. Never before has a congressman heckled a President during a State of the Union address. Now the GOP is fundraising based on Wilson's shameful outburst. Steele is sticking his head in the sand.

    September 30, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Imre Beke, Jr.

    Michael Steele is absolutely right! For anyone – much less a journalist whose entire avocation depends on the protections afforded by the First Amendment – to state that free political speech is somehow dangerous to the nation or to a particular politician is irrational. In fact, it borders on insanity.

    "Nut job" is just a more succinct and memorable way of stating the obvious.

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

    So, they are hanging effigies, shooting abortion doctors, hanging Federal employees and this guy has the nerve to call a writer a nutjob?

    GOP = American Taliban.

    September 30, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  22. Enlightened Voter

    Be honest people, there is still a huge part of America that hates that the President is black. But remember all the hate put out comes back to the SENDER. What goes around comes around, it's called karma.

    September 30, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. mike

    Uhm, maybe the republicans should dress this guy up like Bozo the Clown, I bet people might give him more credibility.

    September 30, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Matt

    Steele calling someone else a nut job? Has he looked in a mirror lately? His entire public persona is defined by making comments that range from the ill-considered to the ridiculous.

    September 30, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  25. Toks

    Hmmmm!!!, I wonder...., I just wonder!!!

    September 30, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
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