Message from senators: Tone it down
January 9th, 2011
11:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Message from senators: Tone it down

(CNN) - Following the Saturday shootings in Arizona, senators on both sides of the aisle cautioned against inflamed rhetoric in political discourse while previewing actions of Congress in the weeks ahead.

On Sunday, Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said violent words and images have become too "pervasive in our discussion of political issues."

He specifically referenced the map Sarah Palin released in the lead-up to the Congressional vote on health care that showed crosshairs over contested Democratic districts, but he was careful not to make a direct connection between Palin's words and Saturday's events.

"Don't we have an obligation, those of us in public life and those who cover us to say, 'This is beyond the bounds. It may be constitutionally permissible, but it shouldn't be acceptable rhetoric?" Durbin said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We owe it to our own in both political parties to have at least the good sense and common decency when people say these outrageous things to say, 'Wait a minute, that just goes too far, whether it comes from the right or from the left."

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said it's time to "cool it, tone it down, treat each other with great respect," even on issues that often divide politicians, like immigration, taxes and health care. He urged those in public life to "do our best not to inflame passions."

But Alexander said he is not worried about his safety and will continue with his normal schedule.

"I'm going to be at the basketball game on the front row, I'll be at the grocery store in a few minutes," Alexander told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday. "We'll be out just like elected officials are supposed to be."

In fact, Alexander said, the first order of business for the new Congress should be addressing the debt, but both he and Durbin said it appears unlikely that a repeal of health care legislation would pass in the Senate.

"I don't believe repeal has any legs in the Senate at this time," Durbin said.

Alexander, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, agreed, saying Democrats have the numbers to prevent a repeal, but that "almost all, if not all" Republicans will vote to repeal the health care law.

However, both senators also appeared open to amending the law. When asked what he would want changed, Durbin pointed to a revision in business tax reporting and Alexander said he favored limiting the expansion of Medicaid in the states.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Arizona • Congress • Dick Durbin • Lamar Alexander • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. sophie

    Whoever winds up defending this kid, if he has half a brain, is likely going to point the finger of incitement directly at Palin. Let's see where this goes when this heads to trial.

    January 9, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Glenn Koons

    Richard Durbin: the guy who called W and our troops like Nazis, putting people in gulags? Tone down the rhetoric. Praying, if lib pray that this shooting loon is a right winger to smear all TEAs, Pubs, Christians, That Durbin?? Like the sheriff of Pima Co. the Dems wanted to already smear any gun owners or people who complained about illegals, or Care or Tarp or anything Obama has put forward. Sorry but that is not how it goes Richard. This is a ploy to use a horror to stop any comments about Obama and the left.

    January 9, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. kneesus

    Why is it that both sides need to tone it down when the one's making the violent threats and gun related lingos were on the right? Did I miss something about a lady getting her head stomped on at a democratic rally? Did I miss something about some Democrats website with gun sights on cities where members of congress presided? Before anybody says that Palin's comments are unrelated, explain to me why the website is down? Who else was charging in with, "Don't retreat, reload." I support hunter's rights and gun ownership, but to bring them to rallies and mix gun metaphors in the realm of politics was obviously unwise and I'm awaiting apologies.

    January 9, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. BeanerECMO

    Tone it down??!! Stop passing America crippling bills that do nothing but anger the majority of the people. Listen to the people!! It is by consent of the governed that you hold the position that you do. Listen to the peolple!! 2012 will be another day/year of reckoning. However, remember that no politician or staff, friends or supporters of any politician is worth the effort to bring harm to them. They should only be afraid of the ballot.

    January 9, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. vic nashville tn

    So far single politician not saying this “we learn form this tragedy we will change”

    We can’t say Sarahpac may behind this or may not but we have doubt

    Our politician must condemn these kind of action immediately before tragedy happen

    January 9, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. aileen ney

    I commend and respect Candy Crowley for addressing the issue of the hateful rhetoric between the two parties and how this may incite people to commit violent acts. The Sarah Palin map with crosshairs had Congresswoman Giffords name on it. Do we need to say more?

    January 9, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Jack

    Tea Party+guns+no meds=death I guess some whacko was listening to the rhetoric of getting the liberals in the cross-hairs. Free speech has a responsibility that goes along with it. If you yell fire in a crowded room and there is no fire and someone dies trying to get out–you are responsible.

    January 9, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Patricia

    If you post a map on the Internet, with gun crosshairs aimed at your enemies, this looks like you want your enemies to be shot. If not, then what does it mean? I may be a little nervous if I was one of the 16 still on that list

    January 9, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Erica

    Why is it that the majority of the politicians these days forget that oh so common phrase "United we stand, Divided we fall"? We have a "house" and a "hill" of elected officials that openly plan to sabotage one another. In many cases this causes "the people" to not stand together, except in tragedy. What kinda of message does that send to our youth?

    January 9, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. vic nashville tn

    Sen. Lamar Alexander very good person conservative I like him I respect him time for him step up condemns certain actions and lead his party

    Tennessee republicans praise the SB 1070 they want to make same kind of law here do we need this now no

    Sen. Lamar Alexander right person to lead my old party (republican)

    Time for us to move on focus on our economy ,jobs and Afghanistan

    January 9, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. jb

    I can't believe the rhetoric that the liberal media is projecting out into this country. Those that try to tie in Sarah Palin with this tradegy are evil. So what if she listed the backers of the healthcare bill. The public has a right to know. The left will do anything and the evil not-journalist will try to invoke anyone that disagrees with their self indulging lies. Why do the left want to destroy Americans and the USA?

    January 9, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. LGNY

    So far the news stories indicate that the shooter tried to enlist but the armed forces rejected him for unstated reasons (probably too unstable). He was also kicked out of higher ed and advised to get counseling (again too unstable). He was known to local police as an unstable person but no specific threats on record.

    Yet.... in our society he easily qualifies to purchase a high-power weapon and a high capacity (30-round) clip.

    Surely, there's room for some middle-ground moderation when it comes to firearm purchasing. In the current NRA climate, we wait until after he's convicted for killing 6 people to decide that perhaps this person should not own a lethal weapon.

    January 9, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Iota

    That is so funny that conservatives and the tea party are so oblivious to the fact that we are actually admitting that there is some hateful things said moron. i mean the tea party holding up signs saying i killed grandma or he is trying to take over our government please stop trying to protect your selves you contradicted yourselves you can thank fox news and all those they what oh sponsor on their show so before you conservatives and tea beggars start trying to attack others for saying its your fault look at the facts One more question can you admit to the fact that people are saying some ridiculous and angry things? There is a difference between saying something and contradicting what you say democrats might have said some things in the past but they wern't the ones who stood on the balcony waving and holding up a tea party flag so.................who's the idiot?

    January 9, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. TM

    I don't recall ANY Democrats calling for "Second Amendment remedies" in the past two years. If you want to find the cause of the violence this weekend look to further than Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity. They CHOSE their words DELIBERATELY. They WANTED to wind people up and get them so angry that they literally couldn't think straight. Now witness the result. ANd you can BET that EVERY ONE of them will plead "Well, nobody could have foreseen this". That is a LIE, because THEY foresaw it, and they counted on it.

    January 9, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. pk

    The political rhetoric hasn't changed much in the last 234 years. What has changed is the media coverage of it.

    January 9, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Fed Up

    Does that mean that Obama should "tone it down" too, when he mentions the Republicans as "enemies" and then laughs?????? My prayers go out to the families of those injured and killed. May God bless all of you.

    January 9, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Monster Zero

    Oh for God's sake, what a bunch of hypocritical scum bags the left is comprised of...Sara Palin uses a metaphor to "target" liberals in our Government and here come the whacko's that it is some unsaid order to assassinate political figures. Take a look at the web page on CNN, Roseanne blasts Palin, uh-oh tards better watch out, you might hurt someone's feelings.... and for those idiots that keep saying ban guns because they kill people, I guess we better ban jets and commercial airlines since 9/11 now too, huh? What a bunch of puss cakes on healthcare, the world is way over populated, people die, this is what happens in the natural order of our world, accept it, we are not immortal. The left is already in full spin mode to make this whack job assassin look like some kind of right wing activist or hate monger Tea Party member when in reality he is just some whacked out 23 year old loser in search of his 5-minutes of fame. How about if he is a libtard and the Representative wasn't liberal enough, did you think of that?

    January 9, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is a filthy, stinking, steaming pile of vulgar white trailer trash. How's that for toning it down ?

    January 9, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. keepcalmcarryon

    Kneesus: tarp was gop policy. And no one is saying you cannot disagree with policies put out by democrats. What people are upset about is that conservatives couldn't come up with reasonable, fact-based arguments to oppose the policies so they decided to ignite up the passions of simpler people. When you say democrats are "anti-america," or creating "death panels," or that they are "fascists," "socialists," "terrorists," or whateever, that tends to turn the switch on crazy people. Also when tea partiers talk about "reloading" and using "second amendment remedies," or going from the ballot box to the bullet box," or whatever it is, this all sends a message to the unstable part of the conservative base.

    January 9, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Kathy S. Cloughn

    I'm sure sarah meant the crosshairs as a metaphor but please remember that the shooters are generally mentally ill and don't have the ability to understand the abstract. Living in a concrete world they think it means they need to shoot someone.

    January 9, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    It's unlikely that someone as self absorbed and ignorant as Sarah Palin will acknowledge the link between her over the top rhetoric, (CROSS HAIRS) and this shooting. We need to stop idolizing this poor excuse for a leader!

    January 9, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Granger

    Instead of giving a status report, the boob sheriff decides to try and blame the media, and beats around the bush about wanting to blame the Tea Party because of a crackpot...hey Sheriff, why did YOU allow this to happen in YOUR county? Since you want to side with the liberals with your spew.....? Absolutely pathetic display, and the governor of Arizona should provide the briefs instead....idiot sheriff trying to further the liberal agenda covertly through a news conference.

    January 9, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. merchant

    we need a strong protest against FOX and rush and beck and sarah.... the tea party must be strongly countered with strong words and let them know america dose'nt belong to them ..

    January 9, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. merchant

    We all know this type of crime is only time away!!!

    January 9, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. JJ

    Why didn't these republican nimrods tell Sarah Palin, publicly and in no uncertain terms, to tone it down when she came out with her braindead 20 targets poster on her web site, and with her other braindead comments like "don't retreat, reload"? It's too late now to take the high road. Acquiescence means you're just as guilty as the party who does the deed. Those who did not rein in the lipsticked chihuahua are just as much complicit in this murderous act as Palin.

    January 9, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
1 2