GOP Responds To Threats, Vandalism Over Health Care Legislation
Politico: "Lawmakers are accusing one another of using threats of violence for political gain, turning a serious law enforcement issue into a political battleground. As the threats against members of Congress and incidents of vandalism mounted, charges of bigotry, lying, hypocrisy and incitement coursed Thursday through the Capitol and around the political universe."
"Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is the latest target. He closed his district office in Kew Gardens after receiving an envelope with white powder and a threatening note, according to a statement released by his office. ... Democrats have been raising money off the incidents, which include the hurling of bigoted epithets at Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who is black, and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is gay; death-wishing phone calls to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and others; the severing of a propane line at the home of Rep. Thomas Perriello's brother after his address was published by members of the tea party, and windows smashed at the district offices of multiple House Democrats" (Allen and Sherman, 3/25).
The Los Angeles Times: "In the days surrounding passage of healthcare overhaul legislation, Republican lawmakers have been left to strike a fine balance between harnessing voter outrage and fueling it. Examples of raw anger have piled up. ... Law enforcement offered increased protection to at least 10 lawmakers, a security measure usually only afforded party leaders. The GOP wants nothing more than to ride to victory this November the wave of anger stirred by President Obama's expansion of the federal government -- much of it from the burgeoning 'tea party' movement. But as the ire turned ugly, Democrats questioned whether the GOP had crossed the line between loyal opposition and reckless provocation" (Fiore and Simon, 3/26).
The Christian Science Monitor: "Republican leaders are fighting back against suggestions that the GOP is somehow responsible for attacks and threats against Democrats over passage of healthcare reform. At a press conference Thursday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, said that he too had been attacked and then accused Democrats of trying to exploit the actions against their members for political purposes. ... Cantor also said that someone had shot a bullet through the window of his Richmond campaign office on Monday and that he had received threatening e-mails."
"At the heart of the frenzy is an intense partisan battle for public opinion over healthcare reform, which will be a key issue in the fall midterms. Some Republicans have voiced concern that media coverage of the attacks against Democrats could discredit legitimate opposition to healthcare reform" (Feldmann, 3/25).
The Wall Street Journal: "Republicans, condemning the acts, charged Democrats with trying to make political hay of the issue. Such 'legitimate threats should be treated as security issues,' Mr. Cantor said. 'It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.' He singled out Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine-who have decried the heated statements made by health-care opponents-for 'dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon'" (Bendavid and Johnson, 3/26).