07/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jon Voight: "Bring An End" to This Dangerous Rhetoric

For me, it was the news consumption equivalent of a spit take: my full realization, days after the fact, of what exactly it was Jon Voight said at the Republican party's national fundraiser in Washington last week. I had heard that Voight, hosting the event, made the kinds of anti-Obama comments anyone with a pulse since January would have expected out of a GOP gathering, and I didn't delve into it much more deeply than that. But Frank Rich's column in the NYT on Sunday isolated a quote by Voight that elicited the aforementioned spit take:

I read the quote over and over; "....bring an end to this false prophet Obama." And then, dropping the modifiers: "...bring an end to....Obama."

Notice, Voight didn't say "..bring an end to the administration of Obama," or "...bring an end to the policies of Obama." Nope. He called for the President of the United States himself to be brought to an end. How is one to interpret this? I'm going to assume Jon Voight wasn't standing before the cream of the mainstream Republican Party, such as it is today, calling for the assassination of Barack Obama. But coming as it did almost simultaneously with the murder of a guard at the Holocaust Museum at the hands of a Jew-baiting, Obama-hating white supremacist, and weeks after the cold blooded killing of an abortion provider at the hands of an anti-abortion zealot, how could Voight have even strayed into rhetorical territory that hinted at calling for the "end" of Barack Obama?

Normally, it wouldn't make a smidgen of difference if an over-the-hill actor, four decades past his best work, tried to reclaim some time in the spotlight by issuing a pseudo-Biblical fatwa against the U.S president. Entertainers from both the right and the left spew their political thoughts constantly, and I would normally have no inclination to take Jon Voight's or Chuck Norris's words any more seriously than I've ever taken Barbra Streisand's. But while considering the source, you have to also consider Voight's audience: the top layer of the supposedly "loyal" opposition, taking in his words with apparent and complete approval.

Again, I'm not saying Voight was calling for what it sounds like he was calling for. But I call upon journalists, bloggers, and others who find themselves in his company to ask for a clarification of exactly what he meant by "..bring an end to...Obama." If he doesn't answer them, maybe the Secret Service should start doing the asking.