Repugnican U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who might want to consider a switch to playing football, is shown in D.C. earlier this month.
The biggest news from last night’s State of the Union address, pathetically, was the post-address thuggery by a Repugnican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, very stupidly on camera, threatened a significantly smaller male TV news reporter who had dared to (try to) ask Grimm about Grimm’s current legal and ethical troubles, especially involving his campaign finances, “If you ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off the fucking balcony” and “I’ll break you in half like a little boy.”
Pro football player Richard Sherman, as Salon.com’s Joan Walsh has pointed out, recently has been termed a “thug” — the opinion of many is that if you are black (as Sherman is), you are more likely to be called a “thug” than is a white person who has engaged in the equivalent behavior, and that “thug” thus is a coded racist term — and I remember well that the wingnuts routinely called union members “thugs” when union members dared to fight to preserve their rights in the aftermath of Repugnican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on workers’ rights in early 2011.
While “thug” certainly can be used as a thinly veiled racist epithet, the members of the right wing in general, in my observation and experience, deem those who act with assertiveness (physical or not) with whom they disagree as “thugs,” whereas those with whom they agree are almost never “thugs,” no matter what they do.
How about the “Brooks Brothers riot” in Florida on November 19, 2000?
As Wikipedia recounts, on that date
Hundreds of “paid GOP crusaders” descended upon South Florida to protest the state’s recounts, with at least half a dozen of the demonstrators at Miami-Dade paid by George W. Bush’s recount committee. Several of these protesters were identified as Republican staffers and a number later went on to jobs in the Bush administration.
The “Brooks Brothers” name reinforces the allegation that the protesters, in corporate attire, sporting “Hermès ties” were astroturfing, as opposed to [actually being] local citizens concerned about [vote-]counting practices.
The demonstration was organized by Republican operatives, sometimes referred to as the “Brooks Brothers Brigade,” to oppose the recount of 10,750 ballots during the Florida recount. The canvassers decided to move the counting process to a smaller room and restrict media access to 25 feet away while they continued. At this time, New York Rep. John Sweeney told an aide to “Shut it down.”
The demonstration turned violent, and according to the New York Times, “several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff’s deputies restored order.” Democratic National Committee aide Luis Rosero was kicked and punched. Within two hours after the riot died down, the canvassing board unanimously voted to shut down the count, in part due to perceptions that the process wasn’t open or fair, and in part because the court-mandated deadline was impossible to meet. …
Keep in mind that Bush officially “won” Florida, and thus the White House, by only 537 votes.
Would any Repugnican on the planet call the “Brooks Brothers riot” what it was, which was a mob of fucking thugs trying — and apparently at least partially succeeding — to influence the outcome of a presidential fucking election in their favor through the use of intimidation (the threat of harm from physical violence) and actual physical violence?
No, to the Repugnicans, especially those of the “tea-party” ilk, this incident was wholly justifiable, because its goal was to put George W. Bush in the White House even though Al Gore had won more than a half-million more votes than Bush had.
Similarly, there is no justifying the shit that the thug Michael Grimm pulled last night.
It’s understandable that Grimm was not pleased to be asked by a TV news reporter about an issue that could threaten Grimm’s political future. And Grimm has claimed that he had been promised by the local TV news outfit that the question would not come up.
But even if that is true, it doesn’t justify his threat to “throw” the reporter “off the fucking balcony” and “break [him] in half like a little boy.” (My understanding is that such verbal threats constitute at least a misdemeanor.)
We can expect such language from football players, I think — I mean, let’s get real; NFL players are essentially modern-day gladiators –but can we excuse such language from so-called statesmen?
Grimm initially apparently refused to apologize, stating, “I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”
Well, actually, Grimm just might be the first member of Congress ever to have threatened to throw a reporter “off the fucking balcony” and “break [him] in half like a little boy.” On camera, anyway.
And I find it funny that Grimm, who apparently lacks all self-awareness, should fault anyone else for lacking “a certain level of professionalism and respect,” when he certainly rather graphically displayed such a lack last night.
My guess is that other members of Grimm’s pathetic party since spoke to him, because the latest statement that Grimm has issued is this:
I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool. I have apologized to Michael Scotto [the TV news reporter whom Grimm attacked], which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post-[Hurricane] Sandy.
In the end, I suppose, it will be up to the voters of Grimm’s congressional district to decide his fate in November.
If those voters have a brain cell among them, Grimm’s political future indeed is grim, and ironically, his on-camera blow-up probably has done him far more political damage than he would have sustained had he just manned up and answered the fucking question, even evasively and using the usual politico-speak, such as he used in his belated, apparently begrudging apology.
In the meantime: A “thug” is anyone of any race or any political ideology who uses intimidation (the threat of violence) or actual violence to try to obtain his or her objectives. (Admittedly, women rarely are called “thugs,” although I believe in equality of the two sexes, so I see no problem with the designation being made for women.)
So, indeed, if Richard Sherman is a “thug,” then Michael Grimm most certainly is also.
P.S. Of the State of the Union address itself, I don’t have much to say. Barack Obama has a solid history of lofty rhetoric but scant political results. And I still blame him for having squandered his political capital thoroughly in 2009 and 2010, thereby helping the Repugnicans regain control of the U.S. House in November 2010 and thus handicapping his presidency ever since.
I already am looking past Obama and forward to the next president, frankly, as are millions of other Americans, I’m sure.