March 28th, 2010
05:42 PM ET
10 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 (39 Responses)
  1. Robert

    Well of course they want to 'respect' it since they're the ones who have fomented it in the hopes of benefitting from it..

    Geez, they must think we're all idiots.. Leaders of the right... the paltry numbers making up the Tea Party movement ARE the idiots who can't see through your games and agenda..

    They will be your support in November. They and pretty much they alone...

    March 28, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Steve, Los Angeles

    No, some Republicans are behaving like home-grown terrorists. Short and simple!

    March 28, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. insightful

    In a country with as much diversity in needs, opinion, policies, agendae, etc., there's inevitably going to be some anger 24/7.
    However, our name-calling congressionals, the insane inflamatory rhetoric of the tv's "talking heads", and the open internet forums where one can vent that anger or reciprocate to an oppositional sentiment are the precursors and banner carriers of the situation now.

    What can be done about it? I fear that, like the accident prone highway intersection where it takes more than enough accidents to produce a stop light, this could spiral to the point when the public consciounce overwhelmingly calls for a resolution.

    March 28, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Scott

    Repeal and replace the Republican Party!
    Democrats Care!
    Republicans Don't!

    March 28, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Lola, Peachtree City

    It's time to organize. The media is concentrating on the "anger" of the Tea Partiers ONLY! The Republicans better respect the "anger" at realizing how much a failure they have been and how much power the "communities" who've been impacted by their failed policies have awaken the "sleeping giant". Those that look like Sen Lamar Alexander of Tenn is a dying' a new generation taking the mantle or soon will in November. It's a slow death..but a death nevertheless! Community organizers's time to CLEAN HOUSE of the Trash!

    March 28, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. rick Atlanta

    "respect" anger... OMG thats original!... how come the news doesm't talk about what the Police Report states about Cantor's resent LIE!!!

    March 28, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. eolufemi

    They need to stop acting like they speak for all Americans. My anger is directed squarely at the republicans who wrecked this country and have fought our duly elected President every step of the way in fixing their mistakes. I don't agree with everything this administration has done or is doing. The war in Afghanistan MAY be necessary, but if that is the case, it means that the defense department should be making sacrifices in other areas, whether it be defense contracts or closing unnecessary bases. Given the fact we're in a recession and can't afford to be spending $700 billion dollars on military expenditures. I also think the banks should have had their regulations determined by now. And the money spent on stimulus should have been spent solely on American products/services produced in America by Americans. That said, the opposition party isn't fighting for THOSE types of improvements to policy. They are simply saying no to ANY policy at all associated with Obama or the democrats. That being the case I'll ride with the President and his party until A REAL opposition party appears that's interested in true governance not simply anarchy/might makes right.

    March 28, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Larry

    Anger is childish

    Respecting it is foolish

    Respectful people do not need anger to express themselves

    They need intelligence and a sense of reality

    The Republicans support, fuel and encourage anger, as a way to lead the sheepish of the American people, down the twisted path of Republican Obstructionism

    The Party Of No ... respect , for this country or it's people

    March 28, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. BigDog

    Legitimate anger is expressed at the polls, not like the ill-informed brown shirt thugs of the Far Right and the "Tea Party." It is difficult to respect such First Amendment displays when they are so heavily couched in semantics and baseless positions. Sarah Palin is a classic example. An opportunist devoid of any substantive background, she is only capable of throwing around high school rhetoric like some spineless bully. Incapable of hoisting the heavy weight of real facts she feeds her Tea Party lemmings sound bites and meaningless drivel for which they clap like trained circus animals. We owe our founders more than pseudo "patriots" who spew family values while championing intolerance.

    March 28, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. marie

    Republicans are doing everything in their power to stoke the anger out there. They are using violent words and images, and act suprised when the get violent actions. Their behavior is obscene, and they are going to lose a lot of votes over these kind of actions.

    March 28, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Chris

    The Right has been saturarting the country for over a year now with a constant stream of red hot rhetoric. Everytime they talk it is nothing but fear and hate made up hyperbole and outright lies – "Death Panels", "Socialism" and their latest "All the American People are against the bill". Anyone with half a brain could see this could only lead to threats, intimidation and violence. But stil the GOP gladly joined in. Now, with their typical blame the victim attitude, they reprimand the Democrats, saying its the Dem's own fault for getting death threats. The Republicans share the same mindset as a wife beater – "I didn't want to punch her, but she made me."

    The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Limbaugh.

    March 28, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. david

    I am angry at the Cancervative lies, hate, bigatry, and stupidity. Palin is a cancer on America. So is Hannity, Beck, Rush and the other screamers of hate and stupidity.

    March 28, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. CAW in MD

    Yeah, I have a suggestion too - stop lying. Republicans have legitimate philosophical differences with the health care bill. That does not give them license to demonize the bill or anybody who voted for it, nor does it give them the right to tell out and out lies about the bill. The republic will not fall because of this health care vote. Communism nor terrorism will "win" because of the health care vote. A little perspective would go a really long way.

    March 28, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. JonDie

    Republicans are TERRORISTS who are inciting its followers to commit TERRORIST acts. There is no excuse for the GOP.

    March 28, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. liz

    That's a good one! people who stoked the anger in the first place with all their lies are now saying we have to respect it. No, we have to attempt to educate people about the things, mostly the health reform bill, that make them so angry and when they learn the truth, they become a lot less angry. but anger is a tool of the republicans, along with fear and greed. these are what they are using to manipulate their base. people who actually do research and think for themselves aren't the ones threatening armed insurrection because they lost an election or a vote. and the ones who are doing such dangerous and despicable things need to be marginalized, not given any more power. In a democracy, you don't always get your way. Democrats didn't get their way when bush and his thugs were in power, but we didn't threaten armed rebellion, we just threw the bums out. and it's to the country's shame it took 8 years.

    March 28, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    The anger is real and it's coming not from the fringes, but from mainstream Americans who have been betrayed by an administration and congress who have abused the political process to try and put their names in the history books. Obama says the economy and jobs are his top priorities and then he does everything in his power to perpetuate America's economic problems. This will be his legacy.

    March 28, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Ken in NC

    I'm angry at both sides. I want to see more cooperation between Dems and Repubs. Repubs. are in the minority so they need to work harder to get compromise. When they become the majority party then Dems. will have to work harder. Fact of the matter is they both need to work together. If you do not get it your way, do not take your marbles and go home. Work some more at it. There is a way to find a solution.

    Right now one group takes their marbles and goes home angry and so the other group does it alone and then the group is twice as mad because they had no say in it. That is no good.

    March 28, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. valwayne

    The nation is rightfully angry at the radical left wing Elites in the White House and Congress who have forced the massive corrupt healthcare bill on the nation. When have we ever seen the level of arrogance and corruption that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have displayed. 16,500 IRS new IRS agents to force Obamacare on the nation. Isn't it funny that he didn't mention that when he talked about healthcare? If our nation doesn't restore balance to our Government in Nov we may not recover for generations!!!

    March 28, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Gamechanger

    A 'real' anger? About what exactly?

    About the Dow being up 70% in the last 12 months? About stemming the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? About turning the tide in Afghanistan and pulling down troops in Iraq? About capturing and killing more Al Quaeda in the last 12 months than in the past 8 years? About bestowing health care to 30,000,000 Americans while cutting the defecit? About restoring our standing in the world? About helping children fight the scourge of obesity?

    If these accomplishments were made by the GOP, FOX news would be trumpeting the news non-stop.

    Maybe the anger is simply that a black president, a female Speaker of the house, and gay congressmen our bettering our country. Maybe the anger about 'the direction of the country' is simply that the white majority rule is coming to an end and that times are changing. Ever notice that the only 'real anger' is coming from middle-age whites?

    Funny, when the GOP was in charge and were spending billions on health care for Iraqis, spending trillions on unfunded prescription drug programs, and increasing the national debt by trillions of dollars we never heard any concern 'about the direction' of the country.

    Oh yeah, that's because old white guys were running things...

    March 28, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. PC

    the republicans need to accept the fact that barack obama won the election. he is now doing what he promised he would do if we the majority would elect him. we did just that an now the losers can not accept that they lost the election!
    sarah palin is the ring leader of this hate-fest. she continues to spout off hatred for this president, showing no respect for america's majority that chose barack obama over her hate filled fear mongering speeches.i am so sick of these repubs that go on FOX news and talk about all americans when in fact they are such a minority and will be even more so come november. my vote was then an is now with president barack obama.

    March 28, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Suzanne

    How about incitement vis-a-vis Palin's "Reload!" comment? Not exactly like yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, but surely pushing the envelope of anger.

    March 28, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Tony in Maine

    Anger is born of fear. In the case of the Tea Baggers, the fear is they are losing their place as top dog in the United States.

    A black man is President, and a woman is Speaker. Their world is truly turned upside down.

    Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell, Roger Aisles, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck seek money or power or both by stoking that anger. They should be ashamed of themselves – but of course – they aren't.

    March 28, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Annie, Atlanta

    They both missed the most important point. It's not using the hateful rhetoric to raise money. It's the fact that we're at the point of hateful rhetoric in the first place. It's a population so astoundingly misinformed that it's embarassing. It's hate radio and tv lying to it's viewers and listeners. And the rest of main stream media picking up those lies and repeating them as truths. It's propaganda. And it's tearing us apart and destroying us.

    March 28, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Mickey

    No, senator, the GOP needs to repudiate and denounce the angry rhetoric, not respect it! The GOP has not done enough to distance themselves from these moonbats.

    March 28, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Dawn Ada, Oh

    Low functioning Republicans are scared and worried because they have been told by their representatives in Congress that this health care will mean the end of our Democracy and we will become Communists, Socialist, Fascists, and what ever ist you can think of. They have been told by their talking heads that President Obama is a Muslim and he is here to take over our country from within and they are shakin in their boots. They have been told by Fox News that if they get health care that it will be an end to Capitalism as they know it. These people are to be pitied. We will not become anymore socialist than we did when we passed social security and medicare. They are allowing their racial fears to herded into a place where they can not benefit, but instead of big business does. They are being told that it is a good thing for them to make low wages and have no health care, as along as the CEO's are doing OK. It is truly sad to see that 40% of our population is so gullible that they will continue to side with people who have no vested interest in their lives. My hope is that they will begin to see that the Republicans are no for them, but for the Rich and themselves. Hopefully this will happen before they destroy our county.

    March 28, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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