06/19/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Christie, Palin and the Death Threats

One trick in Karl Rove's playbook is to falsely accuse the opposition of whatever Rove's attack strategy is up to. Today that trick is getting played out in New Jersey. After leading Republicans like Sarah Palin have spent months whipping up vitriolic attacks on Democrats, they are now seizing on a tasteless joke by a New Jersey union leader and equating it to Tea Partiers carrying guns, calling Congressmen the N-word, and making death threats against elected Democratic politicians.

You might have heard about the recent so-called "death threat" to New Jersey Governor Christie that was stupidly included in a memo sent by the Bergen County New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) affiliate to its locals. A "...teacher's union rep has ripped a page from Tony Soprano's playbook -- and issued a ham-handed death threat against Gov. Chris Christie," screamed the NY Daily news. For days Christie has protested and the mainstream press, including the Daily News and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, went over the top fanning the hysterical flames to sell their news, completely oblivious to the history of Rove and his disciples using this tactic.

The union president quickly apologized to Gov. Chris Christie for an "inappropriate prayer" and condemned the memo sent by its Bergen County regional office that indirectly wished for the governor's death. It's really a recycled "joke" that's made the rounds on the Internet for months with the "deathee" changing depending on political focus. Conservatives sent it around with Obama's name attached. Democrats sent it to liberals with Sarah Palin's.

There is no question that the Bergen County NJEA leader who attacked Christie lacked judgment. And now the Governor is doing likewise by calling the inclusion of the material in the memo "perverse" and "beyond the pale." I happen to agree. But I only wish Christie and his right wing base would also condemn the real, non-joking death threats against Nancy Pelosi's home and President Obama and the veiled encouragement of the Republican base to commit acts of violence.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family during the presidential election that they had seen a dramatic surge in threats against him, coinciding with Palin's ridiculous and deceitful accusations that Obama had palled around with terrorists. The verbal attacks by Palin on Obama had provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him."

After the right wing attacked ACORN with the same kind of vitriol, its offices were vandalized and several of its members received death threats. After Congress passed the national health care bill, Palin's Facebook page featured a map targeting 20 Democratic incumbents and marking the districts where Democrats voted "yes" for health care reform with guns. At the same time she released an ad that put these members of Congress literally in the crosshairs.

So okay Governor Christie, if you want to continue your drama queen act about the "death threat" which no one took seriously, at least take a principled stand and attack your own party members when they create a much more real threat. And let's not fall for the Rovian trick. Let's not take our eye off the ball -- real threats of violence by heavily armed, racist supporters of Sarah Palin and friends.

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