For those who, even after last summer’s shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, remain convinced physical threats against conservative and GOP politicians and their families remain only a theoretical and significantly baseless concern…
I give you Exhibit A: an open letter to Democratic show-boater and Senator Corey Booker (D- NJ), who last June entreated people to confront elected officials by “Go[ing] up on the Hill … Get[ting] up in the face of some Congress-people.” The missive to the New Jersey Senator, penned by Kelly Paul, wife of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, is published today at CNN.com:
“It’s nine o’clock at night, and as I watch out the window, a sheriff’s car slowly drives past my home. I am grateful that they have offered to do extra patrols, as someone just posted our home address, and Rand’s cell number, on the internet — all part of a broader effort to intimidate and threaten Republican members of Congress and their families. I now keep a loaded gun by my bed. Our security systems have had to be expanded. I have never felt this way in my life.
“In the last 18 months, our family has experienced violence and threats of violence at a horrifying level. I will never forget the morning of the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, the pure relief and gratitude that flooded me when I realized that Rand was okay.
“He was not okay last November, when a violent and unstable man attacked him from behind while he was working in our yard, breaking six ribs and leaving him with lung damage and multiple bouts of pneumonia. Kentucky’s secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, recently joked about it in a speech. MSNBC commentator Kasie Hunt laughingly said on air that Rand’s assault was one of her “favorite stories.” Cher, Bette Midler, and others have lauded his attacker on Twitter. I hope that these women never have to watch someone they love struggle to move or even breathe for months on end.
“Earlier this week, Rand was besieged in the airport by activists “getting up in his face,” as you, Senator Booker, encouraged them to do a few months ago. Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol — is this the way to express concern or enact change? Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?
“Senator Booker, Rand has worked with you to co-sponsor criminal justice reform bills. He respects you, and so do I. I would call on you to retract your statement. I would call on you to condemn violence, the leaking of elected officials’ personal addresses (our address was leaked from a Senate directory given only to senators), and the intimidation and threats that are being hurled at them and their families.”
Over at 100percentfedup.com, they reflect:
“Violence and threats of violence against GOP lawmakers and President Trump’s administration have reached a new high.
“… Robert Creamer, Democrat strategist, former felon, frequent visitor at Obama’s White House, and wife of sitting US Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), was caught on camera organizing leftists to threaten and agitate Trump supporters during his 2016 campaign. Their goal was to taunt Trump supporters, getting them so angry, that they would fight back, and it would all be captured on camera … After President Trump won the election, leftists organized to tear the city of DC apart during his inauguration. The violence continued with Antifa and left-wing groups escalating their attacks against Trump supporters at rallies and conservative speaking events on college campuses.”
But things get even worse when prominent Democrats -– those who are supposed to keep the lid on irresponsible or threatening antics from within their ranks — join in on the chaos-cultivating rhetoric. Everyone remembers US Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) who, last June, urged supporters to confront members of Trump’s administration right out in public spaces.
Again, courtesy of CNN, “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from [Trump’s] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
The feisty Golden State Representative later asserted she wasn’t endorsing violence – but then went on to crow to a delighted Los Angeles audience, “I did not threaten [Trump] constituents and supporters. I do that all the time, but I didn’t do that that time.” (The Hill)
To be fair, a full decade before Water’s combustible comments, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama proclaimed at a Philadelphia Democratic fundraiser: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”
I’ve been told the enlightened, philosophically evolved Party of Tolerance was supposed to be scandalized by that kind of minatory rhetoric? What gives, Mr. Former-President?
Months later, the New York Daily News reported, at two Nevada stops Obama fired up the enthusiastic gathered with, “I want you to argue with [your friends and neighbors]and get in their face!”
Booker, who many electoral handicappers are convinced wants to be the next Obama, seems to be channeling the 44th President in seconding that “Get-up-in-their-faces” battle-cry. The Senator’s bellicosity is all the weirder because, as National Review’s Kyle Smith reminds us in a February 2018 piece, at one time the erstwhile Newark, NJ mayor essayed to portray himself a kind of centrist peace-maker on the partisan landscape.
One year ago, at a North Carolina NAACP meeting, he admonished, “Don’t be one of those people I catch calling our president nasty names. I’m serious. How can you think that you’re going to beat darkness by spewing darkness? If Nelson Mandela can love his jailers, if Martin Luther King can love Bull Connor — we’ve got to be people of love!”
Admittedly, confronting someone and also loving them are not automatically mutually exclusive. But with the histrionics and hostility characterizing so much of our public policy quarreling nowadays? “Get in their face”? Not a few electrified activists might be inclined to reckon them’s fightin’ words. I mean literal fightin’ words.
America just might benefit quite a bit if the old Cory Booker — the “lover”, not the “get-in-your-facer” — made a return and regular reappearances thereafter. Accompanied by politicians from both sides embracing that same spirit.