In the past 24 hours, several Republicans – Ken Cuccinelli, Bob McDonnell, Lawrence Verga, Feda Morton, etc. – have condemned acts of violence or threats of violence against Tom Perriello. For instance, Verga says, “If you disagree with him then don’t vote for him in November, but promoting and/or committing any act of violence toward him or his family should not and will not be tolerated.” Cuccinelli called the posting of Perriello’s brother’s address, “appalling,” adding, “I think that is way over the line. I don’t think it’s even close.” And Bob McDonnell chimed in as well: “I certainly condemn anybody using any acts of vandalism or violence to express their opinion…That’s not the way we do business in Virginia.”
But not National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) spokesman Andy Sere. Instead, he’s in pure “blame the victim” mode. Check this out.
While his organization doesn’t condone such behavior, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere said Perriello is not the victim.
“Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes,” he said. “What you’re seeing is a frustration among his constituents who believe he’s not listening to them.”
That’s right, according to the NRCC spokesman, threats of violence (and worse) against his family are actually Tom Perriello’s fault because he had the audacity to vote for health care reform. In other words, the NRCC spokesman is arguing, in America if you disagree with a policy of your government or a vote by your duly elected representative, the recourse is not the “ballot box” but the metaphorical “bullet box.” So, Republicans, which is it going to be: are you going to unequivocally condemn violence and incitement to violence, or are you going to condone it and end up with blood on your hands? It’s your choice.
P.S. Just to be clear, I absolutely and strongly condemn ANY violence or threats of violence against ANYONE in politics (or otherwise), whether they are people on the left making threats against George W. Bush (or other Republican candidates or elected officials) or people on the right making threats against Barack Obama (or other Democratic candidates or elected officials). Having said that, can anyone recall an equivalent back in the Reagan or Bush days to what’s going on now, with high-ranking Democratic officials condoning or even advocating violence against Reagan or Bush? I can’t.
UPDATE: NotAndySere writes about Sen. Robert Hurt’s shameful, cowardly, inexcusable silence.
A day after all of the Charlottesville area candidates managed to come out against threats of violence, where is Robert Hurt? Is Hurt too busy fundraising at the end of the financial quarter to make a statement? Is he too worried about coming out in opposition to the antics of the Danville Tea Party, which have been condemned by the local paper? Is this just how they do things down in Southside? Or maybe Hurt’s going to let a spokesman explain everything for us because he’s too afraid to do anything on his own?
UPDATE #2: Tom Perriello talks on CNN about these threats.
UPDATE #3: Andy Sere is completely wrong on the substance of his charge that “Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes.” In fact, according to the Census Bureau, only 6.1% of Virginia households make more than $200,000 per year, and obviously an even smaller share make $250,000 per year, which is the threshold for paying higher taxes under this legislation. In addition, median income in the 5th CD is significantly lower than in Virginia as whole. The bottom line is that we’re talking about maybe 2% or 3% of 5th CD households facing tax increases, while 97%-98% of 5th CD households receive subsidies, tax cuts, and the many other benefits (on pre-existing conditions, closing the “donut hole,” etc.) this legislation offers. Also see this fact sheet, which notes, “There are 183,000 households in the district that could qualify for these credits if they purchase health insurance through the exchange or, in the case of households with incomes below 133% of poverty, receive coverage through Medicaid.”
UPDATE 3a: It’s also worth pointing out that over 50% of those households are in Albemarle and Charlottesville, so the tax effect on Southside and other (comparatively) economically-distressed areas of the 5th is even LESS significant…than the 1%-2% of the district as a whole. Probably down to 0.5% or so of households outside of Albemarle and C-ville.
UPDATE #4: Actually, it turns out that only 2.3% of 5th CD households earn over $200,000 per year. I don’t see the statistics, but obviously, an even lower percentage earns more than $250,000 per year, the threshold for paying higher taxes under the new health care reform law. So, we’re talking about 1%-2% of (the wealthiest) 5th CD residents facing higher taxes, 98%-99% seeing the same or lower taxes (plus all the other benefits of health care reform). Sere is simply wrong.
UPDATE #5: Virgil Goode also condones the threats and illegality against Tom Perriello, saying “that’s just part of being a public official.”
UPDATE #6: The DCCC has issued a statement in response to Sere.
House Republicans and Right Wing extremists are completely out of control and are now justifying and validating dangerous new levels of violence. This is exactly the type of extremist and despicable behavior that turns off independents and just about everyone else. Given the current threats against House Democrats and their families, House Minority Leader John Boehner and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions must apologize immediately for this disgraceful comment from their own ranks.
UPDATE #7: And Sere (incredibly) holds his ground.
Deplorable as it is, we’re not going to allow Tom Perriello to use one isolated incident as a cynical ploy to distract Virginians from the higher taxes and Medicare cuts he just imposed on them. Thousands of Rep. Perriello’s constituents have legitimately expressed their frustration with him via letters, rallies and town hall meetings, and we will always support their right to do so.
Amazing. As if anyone is against peoples’ rights to peaceful protest against policies they disagree with. What we ARE against is violence and threats of violence. What about that doesn’t Andy Sere understand? Or, does he understand it perfectly well and simply agree with it?
UPDATE #8: Eric Cantor somehow manages to blame Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen “for ‘dangerously fanning the flames’ by using threats against Dem lwmkrs as a ‘political weapon.'”
UPDATE #9: Robert Hurt tweets, “I condemn the vandalism that occurred at Rep. Perriello’s brother’s home and any other attacks that have taken place across the country.”