Will McKenna and Rossi condemn the violent rhetoric of their supporters?

State Attorney General basks in the glory of angry anti-government signs at March 27, 2010 Teabagger rally in Olympia, WA.

State AG Rob McKenna basks in the glory of angry anti-government signs at March 27, 2010 Teabagger rally in Olympia, WA.

Some folks might be alarmed by the arrest of a Selah, WA man for repeatedly threatening to kill U.S. Senator Patty Murray in response to her vote for health care reform, but really, nobody should be surprised when the most unhinged elements of our far right have been egged on for months by their fellow Teabaggers, by hate-talkers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and even by Republican elected officials.

Demonize your opponents too thoroughly, vocalize your call to arms too literally, and somebody is bound to act. When Sean Hannity lauds the “Tim McVeigh wannabes” to raucous applause, or an Asotin Teabagger gathering breaks into peals of laughter at the mention of hanging Sen. Murray, well what’s a patriot like Charles Alan Wilson to think? This is clearly acceptable rhetoric in Republican circles today, so why wouldn’t it be acceptable behavior?

“I do pack, and I will not blink when I’m confronted. … It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee,” Wilson told an FBI agent posing as a representative of the health insurance industry-backed anti-reform group Patients United Now. Wilson himself may no longer be a threat, but there’s no reason to believe he’s the only angry, concealed-weapon-toting winger out there eager to make himself a martyr to the cause of liberty, and the next one might not be so courteous as to provide the FBI a traceable record of threatening phone calls in advance.

U.S. Senators and Representatives do not generally travel with security, so it wouldn’t be too hard for even a modestly determined armed assassin to get to Sen. Murray, especially during a campaign-stop-heavy election year… a morbid thought that occurred to me just last week as I stood a mere ten feet away from two Senators, two Representatives and a Governor who had no idea whether that lump in my jacket was a video camera or a gun. (For the record, it was the former.) So while Wilson’s threat should come as no surprise considering his party’s hopped up level of partisan rancor, neither should an actual attempt.

In this context I wonder at what point allegedly mainstream politicians like Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna will stop fighting amongst themselves for the Tea Party mantle, and start condemning the hateful, violent rhetoric that fuels its base? A little more than a week ago McKenna basked in the glory of a Teabagger rally that vilified Democrats as “gangsters,” “socialists,” “fascists” and worse. McKenna’s mere presence was a tacit approval of the hateful signs being waved in front of him, and while his own words may have been carefully chosen he said nothing to condemn those that were not.

You know… the kinda words that inspire the likes of Charles Alan Wilson to murder a U.S. Senator.

I started this post intending to challenge Rossi and McKenna to condemn the violent and dangerous rhetoric of the Tea Party — an angry rabble that clearly fantasizes themselves armed revolutionaries by the very name they adopt — but the more I consider this incident and what it portends, the more I’m willing to let them off with just this warning: there will be violence, and if it comes at the hands or the goading of the far-right-wing base you court, you will be morally culpable for the political cover you have provided.

And that, I hope, is a calculated political risk even Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna wouldn’t be willing to take.


  1. 1

    Chris Stefan spews:

    I don’t think Rossi or McKenna have the sense tell the teabaggers to tone it down until after some incident occurs. The same applies to Palin any everyone else who is playing with fire. Even after an incident expect many of the pundits and mouthpieces on the right to belittle Democrats for being wimps for complaining unless someone gets killed.

  2. 2

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    McKenna would issue a condemnation, but he’s too busy trying to build a convoluted legal political argument to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

  3. 3


    Chris @1,

    Condemning it after the fact isn’t good enough. They must condemn the rhetoric before it inspires violence.

  4. 4

    GBS spews:

    It’s time for public leaders of both parties to confront the AG who is supposed to represent ALL the people of the state. Not just wing-nut, violent elements of the radical far right political spectrum.

    McKenna and Republicans like Dino Rossi are out of step with mainstream citizens who have reasonable disagreements politically, but are not unhinged advocating violence.

    It’s time for the legislature to act and take the first step to reeling in the AG and censure him.

    If he continues to defy the public’s interest, then it’s time to take more serious legal action and rebuke him.

    If McKenna continues to his reckless and dangerous public stance of fomenting violence to a fringe political movement, then that will leave no alternative but to remove him as AG.

  5. 5

    Broadway Joe spews:

    Goldy, you know that they don’t have the balls (or foresight) to do it. And since we all know that Rethuglicans are cynical scheming bastards, their line of thinking is probably something like, “Well, after they kill someone, I’ll go on the air to condemn the killers, and call for an end to the senseless violence, and that’ll make me look good to the base and maybe even pull in a few independents as well.”

  6. 6

    Mark Centz spews:

    @5, that’s not how the game is played these days. Someone gets hurt (Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan were shot and lived to joke about it, FDR and Ford escaped being hit, although FDR didn’t escape murder that day, so let’s hope any and all attempts FAIL), but when the target is a Dem, they asked for it or were somehow to blame for the attack, so no blame besmirches the Prefers GOP Party crowd. And the liberal press (cough!) will parrot that line or let it go unchallenged.

  7. 7

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    Some might say or have said that there is no connection between the WA Teabaggers and the accused Charles Wilson, but those folks should read the complaint.

    Oh, you were in Yakima last week. How come you didn’t give a big speech to the people waiting outside to see you? Yeah, we were outside waiting for you . . .

    Who was waiting to see Sen Murray in Yakima?

    More than 100 local tea partiers turned out this afternoon for a calm rally against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who was speaking at a Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

    Oh, and going back to the complaint,

    “I would like to thank you so much, for robbing from me and putting on my children’s plate the most ridiculous, underhanded, back-door, lying, cheating, unconstitutional.”

    Whaaaaat? “unconstitutional“???

    Where did he get that idea?

  8. 8

    KMQ1 spews:

    It’s a coldly calculated move to keep potential voters on the cusp of anger because that’s what drives them to the polls.

    The Republicans are so desperate for votes that they will take the crazies. No matter what side of the political spectrum in which you may call yourself, you have to admit that the crazies on the right are a lot more scary than the ones on the left.

    When your argument falls back to name calling and physical threats you have lost the debate!

  9. 9

    Max Rockatansky spews:

    @8…you have to admit that the crazies on the right are a lot more scary than the ones on the left.

    I’m not so sure about that..

  10. 10

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Another Goldy stretch…that does not reach.
    Foolishness…by the King of Fools!

  11. 12

    Broadway Joe spews:

    We only want Bush, Cheney and the other criminals prosecuted for their crimes in accordance with the law, you just want to kill anyone that opposes your weltanschauung.

    Who’s the fool, Max? Why do you hate America?

  12. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Some folks might be alarmed by the arrest of a Selah, WA man for repeatedly threatening to kill U.S. Senator Patty Murray in response to her vote for health care reform …”

    The right probably is alarmed by the fact Big Brother is arresting their terrorist pals merely for plotting to kill Democratic politicians.

  13. 15

    drool spews:

    #3 Goldy,

    Quite correct. They must get out in front of it. Condemnation after the fact is mere words. Getting out now to wholeheartedly condemn it is leadership….something that seems to be lacking.

  14. 16

    MarkS spews:

    “Will McKenna and Rossi condemn the violent rhetoric of their supporters?”

    No. They’re afraid they’ll get their asses kicked if they do.

  15. 17

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    What? Violence? But, but, but, this is justifiable resistance to oppression the wingnuts shout. Well, OK by me. But tell you what, wingnuts, don’t you ever, EVER, get all red in the face and shout spittle flecked homilies like “the ends NEVER justify the means” because you have crossed the line and joined with folks like these:

    1. Construction company tasked with the City Casino project in Las Vegas…the biggest construction project in the US at $11 billion. They “penciled in” 14 construction deaths as a “cost of doing business” and budgeted accordingly.

    2. Joe Stalin who said something along these lines: “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

    Yep, you fuckers paint bright moral lines all over the place…then you ignore them, and line up like lemmings to send money to fascist clowns line James Dobson, or contribute to Hannity’s “charity” that spends 90% of its income on “expenses”, or give money to the GOP so Michael Steele can go see topless bondage themed sex acts in LA.

    But worse than this petty moral depravity is your worship of a demeaning system of economic relationships that has built an expensive suburban big box dead end at huge human cost. Way to go, lickspittle lemmings.

  16. 18

    sarge spews:

    What bugs me, is that McKenna’s meritless legal challenge is a political move to legitimize the tea party’s claim that the government overreached, took away their freedom, and violated the Constitution.

    It’s encouragement to the wing-nuts every bit as much as Michelle Bachmann standing on a balcony cheering on the angry mob. McKenna just does it with more finesse.

  17. 20


    Of course McKenna and Rossi won’t denounce the hate speech, and the angry wingnuts. That, and openly helping millionaires at the expense of everyone else is all they got going for them….

    So McKenna. When is someone going to sue YOU for using state funds for your own political campaign? You know. Suing the federal government. Your personal lawsuit is the most blatantly sickening attempt I have ever seen to abuse a public office, and a powerful position in this state.

    I am looking forward to your chief of staff coming to the Chamber to lie his ass off to us in a couple weeks.

  18. 21


    Yeah. All us crazies on the left. You know. The ones that want economic fairness, and the folks that ordered torture, used the Justice Dept. for voter suppression, and lied us into war to be prosecuted. The reeeeel crazies.

  19. 22

    rhp6033 spews:

    As I said in the previous thread….

    McKenna and Rossi are too busy playing Henry II, complaining to his men-at-arms: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”, and then feigning surprise and outrage that anyone would accuse him of inciting the murder of Thomas Beckett.

  20. 23

    Gangplank spews:

    If I wuz an ignorant over-the-hill redneck living in a backwater like Selah, I would probably hate myself / the guv’mint, too.

  21. 24

    countrygirl spews:

    Of course, they may or may not condemn violence after the fact – it depends on who the victim is. Remember how they said Dr. Tiller’s assassin was a hero?

  22. 25

    czechsaaz spews:


    Speaking of untested legal arguments…

    There’s headline material for the right wing lawyer who argues that the murder of a Congressman is self-defense.

    “Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury. The actions of the victim were such an immediate threat to my client that he was forced to take action. Giving my client access to health care represented an IMMEDIATE threat to the life of my client. My client acted merely in self-defense.”

  23. 26

    kmortland spews:

    Are you aware that Rossi and the Washington State Republican Party have already condemned this weirdo’s actions?

  24. 27

    ArtFart spews:

    It would appear from the way those on the extreme right use the word “freedom” that they define it the same way as in the song “Me and Bobby McGee”.

  25. 28


    kmortland @26,

    You completely miss the point. It’s not enough to condemn the crazies for their actions. They need to condemn the rhetoric that inspires these actions before somebody actually gets hurt. You can’t play to your extremist base and then condemn them when they act on their words.