Art Cullen

Calm Them Down, Senator

There was another town meeting, and yet another man who stood up in Pocahontas, Iowa, a town of about 2,000 with more than its share of elderly people, to register his opposition to all things Obama, as Sen. Chuck Grassley stood there and listened. The self-identified World War II vet told the people in the room that the President is “acting like a little Hitler” and said that if everyone would join him they could grab their guns and head to Washington.

When the man was done speaking his piece he sat down and the crowd applauded. One boo was heard. Grassley said nothing other than he did not believe Obama is acting for “ulterior motives.”

Grassley did not rebuke the man.

In fact, he said that he had some good points about which people should be concerned, including a provision in House legislation that would reimburse terminal patients for end-of-life counseling.

This must stop.

Grassley should have said, “Whoa, wait a minute. Nobody needs to take their guns to Washington. We have already had four presidents assassinated and four more were subjects of attempted assassinations. Nothing is worth the violence you suggest. Comparing a the first African-American president to Hitler is beyond the pale, sir, and you should know that, having defended the world for freedom in World War II. Now please, sir, leave this meeting and seek professional help immediately, as Medicare should cover it.”

It is one thing to argue about costs or whether the government should subsidize health insurance. That’s a fair debate. But for a US senator to countenance a call to treason almost broaches treason itself.

Further, Grassley has done little to tamp down downright lies about what proposed legislation includes and does not include.

Grassley has the power to stop this evil. The far right will listen to him. If Grassley took to the airwaves and encouraged people to have a civil debate it probably would lower the temperature back to normal. This is not about the people rising up in opposition to politicians, it is about violence.

Obama has been generous to Grassley in his remarks and in his actions. The president has patiently waited for Grassley and his colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to produce a bipartisan health care package that insures the uninsured and guarantees affordable health coverage to every American. Obama has been greeted in turn by Grassley’s disingenuous remarks and his cowardice in the face of misplaced anger.

If we end up with a dead president, Grassley should recall how he did not tamp out the fire. Shame on him.

Art Cullen is editor of The Storm Lake (Iowa) Times, where this originally appeared. Email

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2009

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