U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican from Georgia, has just released the following statement:
“Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia an elderly man asked the abhorrent question, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities. I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements—made in sincerity or jest—that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.”
That’s nice. It would have been even nicer if Broun’s condemnation had come immediately, in person, rather than in a statement released three days after the event, and only after it had drawn national attention. Eyewitnesses at the event — including Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald, who initially reported the story, say that Broun chuckled at the question before responding:
“The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
People of all political perspectives can say stupid and even dangerous things, as Broun’s unidentified questioner certainly did. But when they are said in public, at an official event and directed at an elected official, the official in question can choose to challenge such statements or, by silence, tacitly condone them.
Broun chose the second course of action. With his observation that “there’s a lot of frustration with this president,” he even seemed to sympathize with the sentiment. I’d like to argue that the people of Georgia’s 10th District deserve better, but it’s hard given the fact that they elected him and will no doubt do so again.
– Jay Bookman