Thursday, March 25, 2010

GOP Rep. Eric Cantor says shots fired in his campaign office

This is from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

3:40 p.m. The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism agsinst the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., where Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, has a campagn office.

Police said a first floor window was struck by a bullet at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The building was not occupied, police said.

There are no suspects, Gene Lepley, a spokesman for the department, said.

Rep. Eric Cantor says this afternoon that a gunshot was fired through a window of his downtown Richmond campaign office building either last night or two nights ago.

There were no injuries or other details immediately reported. Cantor, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said he doesn’t know whether the shot was random or aimed at the building.

He said he doesn’t know if anyone was in the building when the shot was fired. Richmond police are investigating, he said.

In Washington, Cantor said at a news conference that he has also received threatening e-mail, The Associated Press reported.

Cantor, in Washington, attributed the actions to his being in the House GOP leadership and being Jewish.

The office of Republican Jean Schmidt of Ohio also released a profanity-laced phone message in which the caller accused the GOP of being racist and, referring to an accident two years ago when Schmidt was hit by a car while jogging, said “you should have broke your back, b… .“

First, I'll admit that I don't like the idea of congressmen, or women, being threatened or attacked by anybody. Second, I'm not sure if this story is true or not. I don't know if some crazed liberal activist took potshots at Cantor's office, for Cantor being Jewish? Democratic anti-Sematism? That doesn't seem to make sense. Or is Cantor making this entire story up? I don't know, and I would be interested in hearing more from the Richmond PD. As for Republican representative Jean Schmidt's phone message threat, I could possibly find that more credible if the threat was directed at Schmidt's campaign office, which would have her office phone number open to the public. But I can find very little information on the threat.

Which brings me to the weird Eric Cantor press conference:

WASHINGTON -- And now, Thursday's lesson in how to give very strange press conferences, courtesy of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the number two House Republican leader.

First, condemn violence against members of Congress. Next, announce that you've been threatened frequently yourself -- including having a bullet shot through your campaign office this week -- because you're Jewish. Third, blame Democrats for the whole mess, saying their decision to talk about threats would lead to more violence. After speaking for no more than four minutes, wrap up and leave the podium, taking no questions and marching silently through the Capitol halls as a mob of reporters chases after you trying to follow up.


So Cantor's statement Thursday was apparently aimed at cooling the rhetoric down -- mostly by Democrats, in case voters start to think the GOP bears some responsibility for the threats. And then, secondarily, by the people making the threats.

"Let me be clear: I do not condone violence," Cantor said Thursday. "There are no leaders in this building, no rank-and-file members in this building, that condone violence, period. I've received threats since I assumed elected office -- not only because of my position, but also because I'm Jewish. I've never blamed anyone in this body for that."

One such incident, Cantor said, came just this week. "Just recently I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I've received threatening emails," he said. "But I will not release them, because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent." An aide says authorities are investigating the shooting incident. Richmond police didn't immediately return a call for comment. (Update: Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch no one was injured in the incident, and it's not clear whether the bullet was aimed at the campaign office or just fired randomly.)

But disclosing it let Cantor segue smoothly into putting the blame for the violence where it belonged: on Democrats, who insist on talking about the threats they're receiving. "Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials," Cantor said. "It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns that -- some [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] chairman Chris Van Hollen and [Democratic National Committee] chairman Tim Kaine, in particular -- are dangerously fanning the flames, by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon."

So if I'm reading this correctly, Cantor is claiming that he has received threats and violence, and is blaming the Democrats for fanning the flames of violence. Democrats are fanning the flames of violence? On their own members? Consider the following:

After the Vote, Threats to Some Democrats

Bricks Shatter Windows At Rep. Louise Slaughter's Office, Democratic Party Offices

"Snipers" Threat Left On Rep. Louise Slaughter's Voicemail In Wake Of Health Care Vote

Smash Sensation: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Isn't The Only One With Broken Windows

Tea Party members post Perriello’s brother’s address

FBI investigates Virginia incident

Vandalism reported by Democrats who voted for health bill

Vandals hit at least five Dem offices nationwide, threaten to ‘assassinate’ children of pro-reform lawmakers.

The backlash: Reform turns personal

Stupak receives death threats after voting for health reform.

Health Care Debate Has Protesters Seeing Red, Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

Health Care Reform Leads to Threats

Markey, other health care reform backers report threats, vandalism

Weiner targeted for health care advocacy

Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress

And then there are these two interesting stories, where GOP leaders tread the line in making threats to Democrats:

Neugebauer, 'Baby Killer' Yeller, Apologizes For Appearing To Yell At Stupak (VIDEO)

Sarah Palin's PAC Puts Gun Sights On Democrats She's Targeting In 2010

I could probably list even more hate-mongering from the conservative media, but hopefully you're getting the picture here. It appears to me that much of this hate is coming from the right, with top GOP leaders remained silent on such threats, or the Republicans will parse it as Republican chairman Michael Steele told Fox News, "so let's start getting (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) ready for the firing line this November!" And these threats and violence are being directed against Democratic lawmakers. With the ratcheting up of the health care protests, suddenly these threats and violence against the Democrats are gaining attention in the news media, with the source of the threats going back to possibly right-wing extremists, or possibly Tea Party activists--extremists that the Republican Party has been courting for years. This makes me seriously question Cantor's claim that Democrats are blamed for the violence taking place. Why would Democrats target their own party representatives in voting for health care reform? Or are the Democratic leaders making all these threats of violence up? Or is Eric Cantor talking some crazy stupid here?

It doesn't make sense.

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