Despite it being only three months since Democrats and their media minions sharply criticized "violent rhetoric" and imagery in the wake of the tragic shootings in Tucson, left-leaning elected officials have been regularly using such language in regards to the budget battle without the slightest outrage from America's so-called journalists.
On Friday, conservative talk radio host Mark Levin took to the airwaves to challenge "Meet the Press" host David Gregory to report on Sunday's program what these Democrats have been saying (YouTube audio follows with commentary):
Levin played for his listeners a montage of various Democrats making remarks about the budget battle that would have been highly-ridiculed three months ago if made by a Republican.
First came Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York claiming that freshmen Republicans in the House are “here to kill women.” Next was another New York Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) 2012 budget proposal “passes like a tornado through America’s nursing homes.”
Up third was former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claiming, “One of these bills before us, six million seniors are deprived of meals.” Next up was Jesse Jackson saying, “This is a civil war fight.”
In the fifth position was Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) stating, “This is an opportunity for the right-wing in the House to really sock it to women.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) weighed in next asserting, “This is the equivalent of bombing innocent civilians.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chimed in, “All this to stop women from getting regular tests and preventative services they need.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Mary.) also weighed in, “This entire debate has included throwing women and children under the bus.”
The montage concluded with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) comments about always using the word “extreme” when talking about Republican budget plans.
After a giggle, and some commentary about these absurd remarks, Levin played the “Meet the Press” theme while issuing his challenge.
“David Gregory, Sunday on ‘Meet the Depressed,’ I’m sure you’re going to play all of these audio clips that I just played.”
How about this violent rhetoric here, big Davey? How about all this nastiness? All this hate? All these lies? You were on top of this last time, remember that, David? Oh yeah, yeah, drawing all kinds of conspiracy circles. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh. We even had a fruitcake on MSLSD, me, others, we were responsible for Tucson.
Levin then played the previous montage with the “Meet the Press” music in the background. After it concluded, he said, “There you are – the liberal freak show, David Gregory. There’s your show for Sunday.”
For the record, here are some excerpts from the "Meet the Press" the day after the Tuscon shootings:
DAVID GREGORY,HOST: Congressman Cleaver, there's--I, I want to put this in, in a broader context, understanding what we don't know. We don't know if this was politically motivated. We know that this was a young man who felt--this is just objective facts here--disturbed, became an outlier in some ways, lashing out, had been kicked out of community college, had been denied by the military. There’s lots of things that can contribute to that sense of isolation and of blaming a lot of people. Whether this was particularly anti-government, we can't say for sure.That's the, the compositive facts that we have right now.
But Matt Bai wrote something in The New York Times this morning about some of the larger questions about political vitriol in our system right now and in our country. And I want to have us react to it as the headline, the "Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?"
And he writes this: "What's different about this moment is the emergence of a political culture - on blogs and Twitter and cable television - that so loudly and readily reinforces the dark visions of political extremists, often for profit or political gain. It wasn't clear Saturday whether the alleged shooter in Tucson was motivated by any real political philosophy or by voices in his head, or perhaps by both. But it's hard not to think he was at least partly influenced by a debate that often seems to conflate philosophical disagreement with some kind of political Armageddon."
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): We are in a dark place in this country right now, and the atmospheric condition is toxic. And much of it originates here in Washington, D.C., and we export it around the country to the point that people come to Washington, they come to the gallery, and they feel comfortable in shouting out insults from the gallery. We had someone removed last week shouting out some insult about President Obama's birth. I think members of Congress either need to turn down the volume, begin to try to exercise some high level of civility, or this darkness will never ever be overcome with light. The, the hostility is here. People may want to deny it. It is real, and if we, and if we don't stop it soon, I think this nation is going to be bitterly divided to a point where I fear for the, the future of our children.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Labrador, the--comment on that. You're a tea party candidate. A lot of sentiment in the tea party is to be very concerned about some of the government policies pursued by this president. How do you see the discourse being in any way a contribution to some of the security threats that members of Congress can experience?
REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R-ID): We have to be careful not to blame one side or the other because both sides are guilty of this. You have extremes on both sides. You have crazy people on both sides. And I think what I have done in Idaho when we have some vitriol or maybe some political rhetoric that is going beyond the pale, your job as a leader is to talk to the people in a reasonable way, to have a rational conversation with, with the people in your district. And I think that brings down the level of rhetoric quite a bit down. So those are some of the things that we have to do. But I just, I just need to--you know, the American people need to understand that during the Bush administration, we had a bunch of people on the left who were using the same kind of vitriol that some people on the right are using now against Obama. So it's, it's not something that either party is guilty by themselves or either party is innocent of. And we have to make sure that we, we take care of it.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Grijalva, in terms of Congressman Giffords herself, last spring, in the, in the heat of the heathcare debate, her office was vandalized. And she appeared on MSNBC and talked about the climate in which she was operating then. Let's take a look.
(Videotape, March 25, 2010)
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-ARIZONA): We have had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months. Our office corner has really become an area where the tea party movement congregates. And the rhetoric is incredibly heated. ... This is a situation where people don't--I mean, they really do need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things--for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list--but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D-AZ):: I couldn't, I couldn't agree more with Gabby's comments. You know, part of what we need to do as leaders is a discourse. You know, Arizona is the epicenter of a lot of division and a lot of hard politics. And from the top to the bottom of our, not only elected leadership, but community leadership, it's about the civil discourse, it's about the tone of how we do things. And Congressman Nadler said something on television yesterday. He said, you know, "We are opponents, yes, but we're not deadly enemies." And I think unless we pass that on and lead by example with our civil discourse and our good debate on these important issues like health care, people feel that there's impunity to continue to act...
MR. GREGORY: But Congressman...
REP. GRIJALVA: ...and act out.
MR. GREGORY: That's an important point because, let's be honest, there is a demonization. It happens amongst all of you, it happens in the public, it happens in the polarized aspects of the press, a demonization of the other side. Whether it's a congressman saying, "You lie," from
the House floor, whether it's a Democrat who literally shoots the cap and trade bill in a campaign advertisement. Or your former colleague, Alan Grayson from Florida, compared Republicans to the Taliban. I mean, this kind of vitriol on both sides does contribute to that, that demonization. [...]
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FLORIDA): Just based on what Trent just said and what, what everyone has said, I agree, it's our responsibility to, to make sure that we set the right example and set the tone of civility. But the shock jocks and the, the, the political movement leaders that are out there on both sides of the aisle need to get--have some pause as well. I mean, the, the phrase that you just used, "we, we use ballots, not bullets," the actual reverse of that phrase was used in my district by someone who was almost the chief of staff to an incoming member of Congress where she said at a rally, at a tea party rally, "We will use bullets if ballots don't work." So the rhetoric outside needs to be toned down as well. But we have to set the first example.
Interesting comments three months ago by Schultz given what she said about Rep. Ryan's 2012 budget being a "death trap" for seniors that is passing like "a tornado through America's nursing homes."
If he wanted to, Gregory could do an entire segment on her hypocrisy, especially as she claimed to be such a good friend of Giffords'. Sure doesn't seem like she's toned down her rhetoric, does it?
But Gregory wasn't done that black Sunday in January, for he also had to invoke images of Rush Limbaugh as he addressed the violent rhetoric subject:
MR. GREGORY: Right. Well, and to that point--Congressman, you can respond to this--President Clinton, on the 50th--15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, spoke about political discourse. And, and this is what he said that maybe provides some counsel to the conversation we're having now.
(Videotape, April 16, 2010)
FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON: What we learned from Oklahoma City is, not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold, but that the words we use really do matter because there are--there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.
MR. GREGORY: And let's remember again, what we don't know about this suspect is whether he was motivated by anti-government rage. He may certainly qualify as the unhinged, the unconnected, the delirious, someone who's looking to lash out at authority in all forms because of what was going on in his life, and it's pretty easy to tap into a debate that's going on about politics.
REP. SCHULTZ: We, we have to think about our word choices carefully. That's true. But we also have to realize that someone who is unhinged, someone who is mentally unstable, we don't know--the, the slightest thing could, could set them off. But what--we do have to make sure that among our responsibility is to be civil to each other. I mean, I, I, I've engaged in heated debates many times with colleagues who I don't agree with on the issues. But you have to be a human being who recognizes and has respect for one another when you leave that room. We, we fight and debate in an arena. But you have to leave that intensity in the arena and respect one another as Americans and human beings.
So said a woman three months ago who now calls a budget plan a death trap for seniors.
Of course, we at NewsBusters would be thrilled to see Gregory accept Levin's challenge, but very much doubt it will happen. What we have seen since the Giffords' tragedy is that so-called violent rhetoric is only offensive to media members when uttered by a conservative.
Liberals and Democrats can say whatever they want with total impunity.
As such, I doubt very highly that what we've seen from left-leaning elected officials this week will get much attention from Gregory or any of his other colleagues.
I'd love one of them to prove me wrong.