September 30th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
11 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. Hannah

    Steele and his right wing cohorts are the nut jobs.

    September 30, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Ben in Texas

    "Where do these nut jobs come from?"

    Read down a bit further, Mr. Steele, where your Repugnant buddy Rep. Frank calls the President of the United States "an enemy of humanity".


    September 30, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. Bill

    Good point

    September 30, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  4. Ammie

    Why must the republicans always resort to name calling?

    September 30, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Mr.


    You don't have too many situations when lying writers who get away with spouting utter-BS get themselves and their work criticized.

    You tell him Mr. Steele!

    September 30, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. Carmen, Miami FL

    How can he be that big of a moron? How are Republicans not more embarrassed by this guy?

    September 30, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. dave

    look in the mirror Steele!

    September 30, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  8. John Canada

    Where was all the outrage when the Liberals were calling Bush every name in the book and had a play about his Assasination?????? Liberals and Democrats are so pathetic, they think they can call President Bush every name in the book and treat him with utter disrespect for 8yrs but when they get a democratic president in there all should be forgotten and everyone should bow down to the Messiah. WRONG!!!!!! Obama will be treated with the same respect that you showed Bush, what comes around goes around and if you dont like it , TO BAD.....Because Republicans can play the same game you people played, only BETTER....

    September 30, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. naomi

    Love him. Thanks Mr. Steele for your rational voice in this irrational knee-jerk world.

    September 30, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  10. Richie

    Lookin' for a nut job, Steele? Look in the mirror. Where do black people who support the old white men party come from?

    September 30, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  11. victim of republican greed

    I have a conspiracy theory-
    Back in the 1980's, President Reagan began an assault on the middle class by firing the air traffic controllers. In addition, he expanded the attack to include not only unions, but the lower class, as well, with his 'trickle down economics.'

    About 15 years ago, a foreign billionaire, who was sympathetic to China and their human rights abuses, began introducing Fox media markets so this conservative anti-union, anti-poor message would reach millions. Their all out blitz and recent success against ACORN is another blow to the poor, yet there is no outrage that Halliburton, Blackwater, Xe, and number of defense contractors, have been found guilty and fined for wrong doing. Corporate greed is now the name of the game.

    By putting people that are short on fact checking and long on conspiracy theories, This foreigner has undermined and divided our country. His next target is SEIU.

    September 30, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. Todd

    So a man who takes marching order from chairman limbaugh and breaks bread with glenn beck is calling someone a nut job?

    That is pretty funny. Is he trying to replace Jimmy Falon? That statement is way more comical than anything I've seen Fallon do. Ever.

    September 30, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. JT

    The lunatic fringe of the right is in the ascendancy. The lunatic left has been quieter since January. This has long term negative electoral consequences for the Republican party and the conservative moevement. Sure, Obama is damaged (a bit) in the short term. But you sacrifice the middle. If you are a moderate or undecided voter, and you think Republican, you picture ranters, shouters, screamers, birthers, tea baggers, town hollerers, facebook pollers. Politics is mainly about cultural, even tribal, identification and aspiration. Your average suburbanite doesn't think of herself as one of these Springer-types, or if she is, doesn't want to stay that way.

    September 30, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. allen

    what would you expect the chairman of the RNC to say? Friedman is right; It's sad and scarey, but Friedman is right. Michael Steele does not even have the appearence of control of the nuts in his party. I'm holding my breath.

    September 30, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. Issano in Florida

    Is Steele blind or deaf? There is a horrible nature to these unthinkable comments by the Rightwing nuts. Whenever the Republicons do get back into office, there will be a barrage against them.

    September 30, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Andy

    Bush = Nazi ok for Leftists and Mediacrats, Obama = Communist not ok to Leftists who are Communists. What I don't understand is this. Why do those on the Left have to lie to the American people that they are not on the Left? Seems to me that Conservatives are proud to call themselves Conservatives. Why dont Liberals do the same thing? It is because America is a middle/right country. So instead of persuading Americans that Socialism/Communism/Fascism is a better ideology, they lie. Tells you a lot about the Left.

    September 30, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. Bob R., Lanham, Maryland

    Hey, this Steele character talked about "both sides of the aisle" yet he has never been there and probably never will be there. I mean, do you really want him to represent you? He is a has been Number Two in Maryland and being that I live in Maryland as I have for 35 years, I am happy to be rid of him. What he says is irrelevant.

    September 30, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. Thinker

    Steele is an apologist for some of the worst this country has to offer. He's a figurehead that has been bullied by Rush, Beck and the rest of the cabal since taking this job. Friedman's article clearly says that policy debate is fine but it's the rest of it all - the attempt to delegitimize of the president by the right - that creates an atmosphere similar to that which led to Rabin's assassination. Now you have Steele providing the very cover these agitators are looking for so they can continue to spew their vitriol. Shameful.

    September 30, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. Jay

    Pot, meet kettle!

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. Lester Breis

    Talk about nut job. Mr. Steele, ever hear of projection!

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Tim in NC

    I LOVE IT!

    Steel criticizing someone for NOT being rational about an arguement or point they made!

    I wonder how long Steele will keep his job when Obama is done in 2016... or 2012 when this little pandering stunt finally proves to be ineffective.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. Linda

    Typical politician. Lots of words saying nothing.

    Is this the most articulate person they could find for Republican Party chairman, by the way? If so, they really are in trouble.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Scoobydob

    These kinds of actons are provoked by people like uncle tom steele and lush limpbaugh with all their ultra right wing hate spewing irrational comments.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. No More Parties

    Depending what the investigation into the killing of that census working in Kentucky turns up, this might not be that crazy there Steele.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  25. Cynthia in MI

    Sure, call a Pulitzer Prizer winning writer crazy. Typical.

    September 30, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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