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Joan E. Dowlin Headshot

The GOP Is "Shooting the Messenger"

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I disagree with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) that the media and Democrats are "fanning the flames" by reporting harassment, death threats, vandalism, and brick throwing directed at ten Democratic Representatives who recently voted "yes" on the Health Care Reform bill that recently passed in Congress. Isn't this, pardon the metaphor, like "shooting the messenger"?

Are we supposed to ignore this intimidation? Act as though it is not happening? How foolish is that? Also isn't it a little hypocritical to state a bullet was shot through your office window while declaring we shouldn't report these matters? Turns out the bullet didn't go through Cantor's office but landed nearby and was a stray shot as a result of random gunfire, but let's not be picky. What the Representative was trying to say was "we Republicans get targeted too", which I am sure is true.

So doesn't it make sense for Congress to be bi-partisanship on the issue? Neither side should condone bullying, death threats, and acts of violence. Why did it take the Republican leadership in the House four days to come out against it?

As far as "fanning the flames", could it not be argued that yelling out "you lie" to the President of the United States while he makes a speech to Congress and screeching "baby killer" to one of the most pro-life members of the House while debating the health care bill could set a bad example for the followers of these GOP leaders? Is this not more "inciting the rioters" than the reporting of it?

I am all for freedom of speech, but I thought there was an unwritten decorum that was supposed to be practiced in the halls of Washington when debating issues. I have never seen such animosity in DC in my lifetime.

It also seems the Republicans can't stop making military references when campaigning against the Democrats. Sarah Palin is constantly talking about reloading (well, she is an NRA member) and on her Facebook page she has a map with crosshairs on the Districts where some incumbent Democrats are running in 2010. Michael Steele has a web site with a "Fire Nancy Pelosi" headline that has a picture of her in front of a blazing background. "Fanning the flames" indeed. He also made reference to putting her in front of a firing line in a recent interview.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was recently quoted as saying Congressman Driehaus (D-OH) was a "dead man" after voting for health care.

There do not seem to be calls for civility. When Congressmen and women stand on the balconies of the House with signs reading "Kill the Bill" while whipping up the crowd of Tea Party activists right after some of these protesters shouted nasty epithets to black and gay members of the House, it is distasteful at best, reckless at worst.

The GOP talking point is that it is a separate incident and only a small minority of fringe tea partiers created this havoc and the movement on the whole should not be blamed. OK then, but how many "separate incidents" does it take to make a disturbing pattern? And why not condemn the actions of the few when it occurs, instead of defending the whole Tea Party?

We all know times are tough right now. People are worried about jobs, wars, education, health care, their retirement, debt, foreclosures, natural disasters, greedy banks and corporations, and any number of things. There is much to be angry and skeptical about. But we would all agree, I hope, that violence and intimidation is not the answer from either side of the political spectrum. Cool heads and civil hearts must prevail. Let's tone down the rhetoric and work together to find solutions to our nation's problems. Anything less than that is truly "fanning the flames."


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