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. Laurie

    Michael Steele is a nut job. He is in the company of the God Fearing, patriotic commentators on the FOX news network, Rush Limbaugh, and the admirable Joe Wilson. Inciting, oh, I mean inspiring all small minded people to rise up. I never thought that I would see the day that this crap would be spread all over by so called politicians and "newscasters?" Quit dangeling on the bottom of the food chain and come up with intelligent discussion and dissent.

    September 30, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Craig in Washington

    Mr. Steele, please pull your head out. The true nut jobs are on YOUR side of the aisle and they ARE getting dangerous. So do something about it instead of making excuses.

    September 30, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Jeff in Houston

    He is no nut job. Look at history. Corrupt, dying movements become desperate in their final attempts to survive. The fear one thing above all else: An informed, educated society. As we move toward that goal, the extreme right will stop at nothing to stop a progessive president.

    September 30, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. Lor

    you are the nut job. you GOP puppet

    September 30, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. PJ

    This is just more of the same. Anyone who dares to voice opposition to an Obama policy is either a racist or an advocate for violence. Or both. The left cant win the argument based upon the facts, so instead they come up with these claims of racism and hate on the part of those who oppose Obama. Its too bad that the President cant fight his own battles isnt it? Its sad that instead of being able to stand up for his policies and fight back he has to rely on his left-wing-wack-job base to throw this kind of crap against the wall waiting to see if any of it sticks. This is why the Democrats are on their way out. The American people can see for themselves what is going on.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Dan

    All – read what Friedman actually wrote at, then decide for yourself. I don't think Steele even knows what Friedman wrote, but of course he will comment on anything.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. Liberal4Obama

    Michael Steele can think and say whatever he wants, anyone with half a brain knows he is not the Boss of the GOP, that title belongs to Rush Limbaugh.

    Michael Steele should stop embarrasing himself and step down, he has no voice and no power, he is not even in charge of the money, thats how much the GOP trusts its "first black" chairman.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  8. southerncousin

    All you have to do is read the responses to this to realize that the whackos are on both sides. The libs have been at this mean spirited, demeaning, degrading of presidents much longer than the conservatives and have been so successful they have elected a whack job as president.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Mike McShea

    The word "Nut Job" from Steele sets the standard by which Americans – Republicans and Democrats too – no longer have conversations and debate with one another with polite words. Opinion, punditry and name calling do not make for the building blocks of trust, respect or the preservation of civility in the present virtual American Town Square.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Ron In California

    Steele is right...this type of editoralizing and media opnion is absurd.

    September 30, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Charles

    I'm sorry but for a party to promote gun toteing at town halls where the president is speaking, stirring up the racial pot and all while just making outrageous claims against health care.. Tom is correct. It will give some GOP "nut job" permission to carry something out. Just like the brown shirts did in the rise of Nazi's before WWII.

    September 30, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Ray in Nashville

    Mr. Steele has some credibility here since his is the party of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Anne Coulter, Charles Krauthamer and so many other nut jobs that he should know one when he sees one.

    September 30, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. pam Eugene OR

    This whole thing has nothing to do with "public policy issues" because the Republicans have no position on policy issues other than NO. It is about defeating President Obama. Whatever he wants they say NO and attack him on personal levels. Obama is doing no more, and probably quite less, travel than Bush but every time he goes any where they are calling him out for it. Hannity make a big deal our First Lady going to the grocery store. Please don't even try to tell me Mrs. Bush never went shopping. Please remember these are the people who want us to fail!

    September 30, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. mj connor

    Steele is the "Nut Job " here. It's quite obvious that he and the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaugh's of the Republican party are spreading a very dangerous climate in the US for violence. They are inciting the twisted minority to a frenzy with "end of the world" predictions if we actually attain long overdue health care reform. Ifg and when the violence errupts, they'll claim "it wasn't our fault". Like hell it isn't.

    September 30, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. MommaM

    I pray for our President everyday and wish him well. I am 55 years old and this is the first time in my life I have felt uncomfortable with all the rhetoric I hear. I believe that with all the technology we have available to us those who have the loudest voices should exercise their right to Freedom of Speech with care – knowing that their words can incite less reasonable men. Whether it is racism or not I'm uncertain of, politics has always brought about heated debate in our country's history. I fear that the loud voices out there making use of media technology are driven more by the ratings and audience they draw then the message they are delivering.

    September 30, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. GEdwards

    A completely rationale response to the continued fear-mongering of the left. Thank you Mr. Steele.

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Tony

    Michael Steele, Dick Army, Rush, Fox News and other GOP are the "nut job"

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. SayWhat

    I guess Steele's credentials, as one of the faces of the GOP wing nut army and a person who has spoken some of the most idiotic drivel, even by modern political partisan standards, gives him the right to call Tom Friedman names. Tom Friedman has a gross advantage over Steele and his ilk, he has a very able brain and he is willing to use all of it, not just the right side.

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. snood

    I would just like to know why CNN is not saying anything about the Dem thast help a sign saying Repub. heatlth care they want you to die fast as there plan. this is a lie and I wonder why nobody sez anything. if the shoe was on the other foot this would be all over the news. hypocrites on both sides.

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Norm

    Mr. Steele,
    You want to know why people say these things? Well, how about people carrying assault weapons at health care rallys, or calls from Republican "screamers" for death to the President, his wife and his stupid children", or Sarah Palin and her death panels. Feedom of speech aside, if people say and do these things and it becomes viral like it has then you have to expect calmer and more intelligent folks to speak up about the possible consequences. Norm from New Mexico

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. ken

    tell that to the right wingers showing up at obama rallies wearing handguns. the reason"the decider" didn't face this type of hate is simply these haters supported him and he is white.

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |

    Is Beck a nut job Mr. Steele?

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  23. Jeremy

    Funny, if you didn't agree with the last president you were branned as "unamerician". Now the right wants a "rational discussion".

    Mr. Steele is delusional if he thinks that playing with political fire won't result in burns. Telling people that they have no choice but to resort to violence will result in violence.

    September 30, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. cspurgeon

    Steele and his cohorts are the only nut jobs I see on the horizon. Just hope people have enough sense to disregard their idiot talk.

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. Erin in Cali

    Hey Steele have you actually been listening to the "nut jobs" over there on FOX news.....yes disagree with the President all you want but when the tone takes a turn of pure hatred and foolishness and paranoia I think that those of us living in the real world have evry right to be concerned. Debate with out hate!

    September 30, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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