Venturing well outside the box, Congressman Tim Griffin suggested last week that Democratic leaders' reckless cries of "Don't shoot," "Let us live, please," and "I have a family" were encouraging the ongoing slaughter in America. So far, he is the only person to advance this notion. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has reportedly called Griffin's statement "injudicious."
As bullets whizzed through the streets of Washington, Rep. Griffin (R-Little Rock) posted this on Twitter:
"Stop the violent rhetoric President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.#Disgusting." Schumer is a senator, Pelosi the minority leader of the House. Obama is the only president who was ever called a liar while delivering a State of the Union Address to Congress (so called by a Republican colleague of Griffin's). None of the three Democrats carries a weapon, or threatens to use one, even on Ted Cruz. What violent rhetoric could Griffin possibly be referring to?
The only thing we can think of is that Griffin heard the three Democrats express hope that people would stop shooting each other, and perhaps even voice a preference for not being shot themselves. Griffin, possibly panic-stricken by the gunfire around the Capitol, may have interpreted this as a naive provocation of further violence, like letting a dog see you're afraid of him. What other explanation could there be for Griffin's behavior, besides unbounded partisanship and general dizziness?
If Griffin really believes that Pelosi, Obama and Shumer are using violent rhetoric, he should familiarize himself with the things that other politicians are saying, such as David Marsters, a candidate for selectman in Sabattus, Maine. On Aug. 23, according to the Portland Press Herald, Marsters posted a photo of Obama on Facebook with the caption: "Shoot the Nigger." (It sounds like a motto for the Tea Party, though we're not sure Marsters is a member.) A former policeman from Massachusetts, Marsters told the Press Herald, "I did not threaten the President. I might have used the wrong words. ... I didn't say I was going to do it. ... What I really meant to say is 'When are we going to get rid of this [expletive]?' ... I should have said: 'I hope the bastard dies.' "
Griffin withdrew his remarkable Tweet after a few minutes, having attracted considerable attention, mostly unfavorable. We'd like to think his colleague, Rep. Tom Cotton, previously considered the most extreme member of the Arkansas delegation, took him aside and said "Tim, you're way out of line here." But we're having trouble selling it to ourselves.
There are other factors, but the white helmets aren't helping.