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. Librarian

    Who is the nut here ? STEELE. And I would hold him responsible for any violence along with Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and other seditious characters who are domestic terrorists.

    September 30, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Mark

    He's right. Its always a "right wing conspiracy" when the people start to disagree with socialism.

    September 30, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Kahuna

    Steele: More politics as usual. Did he not pay attention when the "nutjobs" were screaming out "terrorist" about Obama at Palin's campaign rallys? Was he not watching when McCain gave his concession speech and had to tell the screamers to "stop it"?

    Steele's remarks just give the right wack jobs more elbow room to spew their bigoted hate messages.

    September 30, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. J Williams

    The GOPs first, only and last black person to 'lead' (LOL!) their party.

    Is ignoring warnings that his party is fomenting hatred against the first, only and last black president.

    He's pathetic.

    September 30, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. PssttCmere

    How does Friedman explain the many in his own party that are defying obama......could they be the problem?

    September 30, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. JDM

    Mr. Steel is between a rock and a very hard place. He wants to be known as a republican who is black and that not a problem. However, everyday he must face the reality of being a BLACK REPUBLICAN. Trying to defend ideas the effect minorities like himself is very stressful to watch.

    September 30, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. wkndthg

    What solar system is he from? Did he hear about the web site asking if the president should be killed? Duh...

    September 30, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Jeff

    Would you buy a used car from Michael Steele?

    'Nuff said.

    September 30, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Bridget

    I have read that the number of threats against Obama is 400 times greater than past presidents...anyone care to confirm or deny that? Michael Steele needs to get his head out of the sand and attend a tea party to see what kind of people the GOP is bringing out of the woodwork...I've seen some real nutjobs with crazy violent signs.

    September 30, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. MC

    Steele's in a tough spot, but he's got to see, and read and hear what going's on. This crap obviously started a long time ago, but I think it caught a spark at Ms. Palin's campaign rallies – it's whipped up pretty good now.

    September 30, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Lyssa

    I was watching this interview this morning, and I was surprised, but impressed, to hear Mr. Steele speak so bluntly. Comparing legitmate policy disagreements to assasinations in another country in no way advances the debate, and should be condemed. Thank you, Mr. Steele, for telling it like it is.

    September 30, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Tim

    Um hello a right wing Newsmax writer just called for our military to overthrow President Obama. The 70,000 people at their nutjob fest in DC two weeks ago we in the same mindset.

    Steele has proven time and time again that he and his side are the real nutjobs, they are not to be taken seriously.

    September 30, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Jamey

    Well, Steele ought to know a nut job when he sees one, considering what a major-league nut job he is.

    September 30, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. Big John

    Mr Friedman was referring to the real "nutjobs" being spurred on by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Oreilley, Hannity, and Coulter...Oh yes, Sarah too. These "nutjobs" are just stirring the pot, where's the rage against them? Mr Friedman is just calling it as it is and frankly I agree with him on every point.

    September 30, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Peoples Voice

    Steele know very well what he and his cohorts are doing.

    They are trying to defeat this president. If it means his being killed, then it's no sweat off their brows.

    They have and are pandering to the hatred found in the racists population.

    They are the enemies of the State. It's time for we real Americans to put a stop to it.

    September 30, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Baby Ray Ray

    Sounds about right. The leftists are so weak minded they will do and say anything to advance their agenda. Fortunately the American people are beginning to wake up and they realize what garbage Obama and his supporters are spewing.

    September 30, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Jeremy

    So says the token black guy placed at the helm of the GOP just because Obama was elected. I predict a memorable expose will be written by Steele when the social bigots in the GOP finally give him the boot.

    September 30, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. Jeebus

    Wow. Steele is either stupid or venal. Friedman specifically says in his piece that disagreement on policy is one thing and advocating violence (vis a vis a poll that asks "Should President Obama be killed?") is another.

    Really weak. Why aren't reporters grilling Steele?

    September 30, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. Andi

    Rational? Michael Steele is asking for people to be rational? That's a good one. What he means is, it's 'rational' if it's done by 'his' side.

    September 30, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Dave

    Steele needn't even defend the people Friedman mentions. Never in the column does Friedman describe the guilty parties as Republican, or even conservative. Steele is doing his party a disfavor by associating with these fringe lunatics. It creates guilt by association.

    September 30, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |

    looks whos calling the kettle black

    September 30, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Billy Zachary

    Steele is the nut job.

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. LuAnn & Wayne Houle

    I think most people would call Michael Steele the " nutjob" .....that along with many other things.

    GOP= Grouchy Old Pantpissers

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. barb

    Just what is going on in this country? What kind of example are the name-calling politicians setting for our children and the rest of the world? Respect is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    The Facebook poll is just an example of the decay of respect. Yes, we do have freedom of speech but along with it must be common sense.

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. David

    If you don’t agree with president you are a racist, if you are vocal about it you might end up becoming violent. Come on this is crazy; never did we hear such nonsense when the left including the media were attacking Bush on a daily basis and while I did not agree with a large portion or Bush’s positions or for that matter Obama’s I do see a different level of standard set by the news media supporting the chosen one.

    September 30, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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