A profile in cowardice: Rep. Paul Broun

The right response to “Who is going to shoot Obama” is not “We’re going to have an election next year.”

I understand that Republican electeds don’t want to annoy the Teahadist wing of the party. After all, that’s their base.

But when someone publicly asks a member of the House of Representatives about assassinating the President of the United States, the Representative ought to say something more forceful than “We’re going to have an election next year.”

The brute fact is that open advocacy of political violence is now endemic on the Red side of the politico-cultural wars. Broun’s response to the wingnut voter is in line with Gov. Walker’s response to someone he thought was one of the Koch brothers proposing to “plant some troublemakers” among the protesters in Madison. “My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems.”

At some point, the remaining grown-ups in the Republican Party are going to have to try to reassert control. But so far I’m not seeing much evidence of that.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

12 thoughts on “A profile in cowardice: Rep. Paul Broun”

  1. “At some point, the remaining grown-ups in the Republican Party are going to have to try to reassert control. But so far I’m not seeing much evidence of that.”

    Why would they have to reassert control? The whackjobbery seems to be moving the Overton Window their way.

    By now, this is a standard GOP practice whenever a Democratic President takes office; make threats and delegitimize him.

  2. I’m sorry, but did you miss the “grown-ups in the Republican Party” stealing an election, adopting perpetual war as a central policy and crashing the global economy in an orgy of lawless financial and business corruption?

  3. Just as you could not negotiate with the South to prevent a Civil War, so too Mark and you can not shame or negotiate a settlement with Koch’s teabaggers and paid agitators. We are in is psy-ops war. The billionaires are trying to get ordinary Americans to fight each other over crumbs while they sup unseen in splendor. (See Robert Reich’s read of the week.)

    I realize you are a decent academic wedded to logic and reason and the quiet and sure machinery of democracy. Bless you for that. But that will not change this tide. Just as it could not settle the issues 150 years ago. Cold reason is worthless when it is not paired with hot emotion.

    We are now a confirmed oligarchy…

    Can anyone stand and tell me that my role in this democracy is not wholly meaningless next to Koch’s? Can I call one of my purchased governors on a whim and get him to spew all his insider details with just a few profane grunts? I think not. The fake Koch call was the most damning piece of evidence for an oligarchy in my lifetime. And it demands a vituperative and visceral counter response.

    I know you all think I am kooky for suggesting this in other posts. But what needs to happen is for the liberals to “arm up.” The left should be forming militias in all states. And wherever Koch goes, whereever it is legal, liberals should show up carrying high-powered guns and signs that hotly readly: Second amendment remedies against Oligarchs.

    No, I am not suggesting violence or that anybody fire off some rounds. But I am suggesting it is way past time to put an emotional spotlight and maybe even some fear onto the Kochs et al. After all, this is exactly the Right’s strategy: Intimidate the body politic with guns and emotions and outlandish calls of “socialism.” And by so doing, they are showing each other, and us, and the media, just how serious they are.

    I realize not one liberal will back me on the above. But it is way past time: Someone needs to bankroll liberal militias. Someone needs to finance constant armed-demonstrations at Koch’s home (if it is legal) and when he appears in public (where legal). Wheresoever open-carry is allowed and Koch finds himself, he should be greeted with pistols, riffles, AK-47s, and angry signs.

    I am not saying we should forget the puppet politicians spewing their guts on demand to Koch on the phone. But I am suggesting we make the Kochs and Murdochs the most despised men in America. There has to be a penalty to their behavior. Our democracy is now a proven oligarchy. And to sit by passively in ivory towers demanding civility from the oligarchs, seems a meaningless lesson in academics….

  4. This is what you get when the gun nuts are empowered. People want guns (beyond one shot hunting rifles) so they can threaten, intimidate, and kill.

  5. Yoyo, one-shot hunting rifles are used to kill too. You apparently meant to distinguish killing non-humans from killing humans. I don’t approve of either.

  6. Mark,

    There are *no* grown-ups in the Republican Party. If you would dispute that statement, name one who has any influence. As to koreyel above, If you disagree, please suggest an alternative program. It is no longer sufficient to say “We can’t/shouldn’t do that!”

    koreyel suggested that no liberal would support his ideas – until I hear a better plan, I for one do support his ideas – I am a liberal (although not an important one).

  7. Threatening violence is immoral and won’t work anyway. Don’t forget there is a double standard in this country. If the left armed itself, it would be counterproductive. “Independents” – whom we apparently need to win elections, more’s the pity — think it’s kinda cute when nice white people pull these stunts. When the left does it, they get scared. So don’t even bother with a militia.

    No, what we need is a credible leftist leader to readjust the debate. Someone who will demand pensions for all workers. Someone who will demand a living wage. Someone who will demand a 35-hour workweek (do you have a better way to create jobs?) Someone who will demand that hedge fund folk pay taxes like the rest of us.

    We won’t get much if any of it, but it might remind people what a real progressive agenda would look like. Only, don’t let Nader do it.

  8. Btw, job no. 1 is to recall the Wisconsin governor. If people there decide to go for it, we should help them.

  9. There are *no* grown-ups in the Republican Party. If you would dispute that statement, name one who has any influence.

    Mitch Daniels. Dick Lugar. Rick Snyder. Bob McDonnell. Jeff Flake. Tom McClintock. Chris Christie.

    Professor Kleiman, I would like to note, for the record, that two of your commenters on this thread have proposed armed confrontation with political opponents in order “to put an emotional spotlight and maybe even some fear onto [sic] the Kochs.”

  10. Dissenter’s nominees as grown-ups in the GOP:

    Mitch Daniels presided over the Bush II OMB that helped crater our national finances and now tries to present himself as serious about the deficit. Disqualified.
    Dick Lugar will be 80 before his next election and faces uncertain prospects in his primary. Of the generation passing from the stage if he’s not explicitly rejected by his party. Irrelevant.
    Bob McDonnell needed to be reminded that slavery had something to do with the Civil War. Disqualified, although marginal credit for having the grace to reverse himself when reminded. Puts him one up on Haley Barbour.
    Chris Christie is trying to execute the Walker program of tax cuts for the wealthy paid for out of the pockets of the middle class, albeit more smoothly. Disqualified.

    A short list becomes shorter.

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