Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2010

ANGLE'S 'SECOND AMENDMENT REMEDIES'.... Of all the issues with Sharron Angle, the extremist Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, perhaps the most frightening is her willingness to talk about armed insurrection against the United States government. Her policy positions make her appear nutty, but this portion of her rhetorical repertoire makes her appear dangerous.

Given that Angle has spoken publicly about the possibility more than once, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a conservative paper, asked the Senate candidate to explain what she means when she talks about "Second Amendment remedies" to political disputes. Angle seemed annoyed by the question.

"I can't believe people are even asking that," Angle said in the brief interview. "I'm very much a proponent of the Second Amendment and the Constitution. But what we have to focus on here is a movement, a movement that's about retiring Harry Reid" by voting him out of office."

This vague and unhelpful answer came the same day Angle literally ran away from a journalist asking the same question.

This won't do. A candidate for the U.S. Senate, who has already won her party's nomination, has talked openly about the possibility of the armed overthrow of the government. Asked to clarify, she either flees from journalists, or gives a non-answer. It's incumbent on all candidates to explain their beliefs to voters, but in this case, Angle's extremism makes the responsibility all the more acute.

Jon Chait explained, "There's been a lot of wild, loose rhetoric on the right since Obama took office -- wilder and more mainstream than the equivalent on the left under George W. Bush -- but Angle is really taking things dangerously far. The protection of the law is not enough to ensure the survival of a democracy. Democracies rely upon certain social and cultural norms in order to survive. An important one is a basic respect for the democratic process and a refusal to hint about the idea of actual armed rebellion. Angle did not quite advocate armed rebellion, but she did clearly egg it on it in a way that melds prediction with encouragement....The alarming thing is not so much what Angle said but how relatively little a ripple it has made.... It really seems like a dangerous milestone is the darkening mood of the American right."

Angle won't be able to literally run from this indefinitely.

Steve Benen 9:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Responsible leadership seeks to calm hysteria, not inflame passions.

Posted by: bigbob on June 19, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Talk like this from someone who might actually become a senator gives implicit permission to future Timothy McVeighs. How much more explicit does she have to be before she actually breaks the law?

Posted by: Decatur Dem on June 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

A tactical suggestion: reporters and others who ask Angle what she meant should QUOTE the Second Amendment:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

And then ask her what part of that is her remedy for the Majority Leader.

Posted by: theAmericanist on June 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

This loony will be a U.S. Senator next year. It will be interesting to see her interact with the colleagues she has implicitly threatened with violence.

Posted by: JMG on June 19, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

This is more frightening than "her willingness to talk about armed insurrection against the United States government." She was quoted recently as saying that that "remedy" might be appropriate "if we don't win at the ballot box." So if more people vote for Harry Reid than for her, she's going to take up arms? Why does Sharron Angle hate democracy?

Posted by: navamske on June 19, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Why hasn't this created a "ripple"? Because right-wing extremism has been mainstreamed in this country. It's why a Naziphile like Pat Buchanan is a figure of respect. It's why Tim Russert decided Rush Limbaugh is closer to the middle than the extreme. It's why the Tea Party, a mob of incoherently raging wingnuts, is fawned over and praised. This is America's dirty little secret and our media doyens are happy to promote its toxic outcomes.

Posted by: walt on June 19, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Walt: no, no, no.

Progressives reflexively insist that WE'RE smarter than the average American, who is also inherently racist and extremist and a collection of 'incoherently ragingwingnuts', which is somehow "America's dirty little secret".

And then y'all neatly contradict the idea that most Americans are really that bad, by insisting that this is ALSO promoted by "media doyens".

Sweet Jayzus, yer paranoid.

Angle is a Republican candidate for the Senate. She has a problem -- her views are not popular. She has an opportunity -- her opponent isn't popular, either.

That isn't a particularly complex dilemma. The solution is to make Reid the issue, because when the news is about HIM, if the election is whether people LIKE him, she wins.

So the response isn't to dis the American people, nor even the media.

It's to hold her accountable for what she says -- and if she ducks that responsibility, make THAT the story.

In this case, it's to quote the Second Amendment, over and over and over again, TO her, as directly as possible.

She won't turn away from the language: it's a talisman for her and her supporters.

That means as a political tactic, she has to either refuse to answer what she meant by "remedies" to the Majority Leader in its language, or explain herself.

That's a news story -- hell, it's a political CAMPAIGN, which respects the public.

Progressives ought to do more of that.

Posted by: theAmericanist on June 19, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

We can be sure of one thing: if Angle is elected, there will be an instantaneous and magical reversal in her views about the appropriateness of armed violence against elected political figures in a democracy.

Posted by: bluestatedon on June 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, this is a problem for which the media is to blame. If Sarah Palin's Facebook ramblings been treated as inconsequential press releases from a failed Vice-Presidential candidate much as the statements of, say, Michael Dukakis after the election of 1989 or Al Gore after 2000 would have been treated, Angle would realize that she had no choice but to answer reporter's questions if she wanted to be taken seriously.
As it is, she knows full well she can retreat to the cocoon of right-wing media outlets like Fox News and that the traditional media will make every attempt to accommodate her.

Posted by: Rich2506 on June 19, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

And yet she will almost certainly get at least 40% of Nevadans to vote for her no matter what she says or does. That's IF she loses. That's the thing that makes me despair for this countrys future.

Posted by: REN on June 19, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

She and many others ate not interested in a democracy or even a republic. They want an aristocratic,totalitarian oligarchy in which most citizens would have neither rights nor a vote.

Posted by: iyouwemeus on June 19, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Q. What is a Second Amendment Remedy?

A. The tyranny of the minority.

Kinda like what goes on in the Senate everyday, just add guns.

Posted by: bcinaz on June 19, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK


She and many others are not interested in a democracy or even a republic. They want an aristocratic, totalitarian oligarchy in which most citizens would have neither rights nor a vote.

Yeah, what he (or she) said. Except I would insert a comma and then "theocratic" after "totalitarian."

Posted by: navamske on June 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

>i>the equivalent on the left under George W. Bush

And what did we talk about under George W. Bush? Application of existing laws. Oversight. Investigation. Impeachment. All duties of the legislative branch under the Constitution. All things that are trumpeted to the world as hallmarks of our system. All things we've pointed to with pride for generation. All things we've trumpeted to the rest of the world as proof that we're the Greatest Nation on Earth.

All things that were mocked, belittled and flouted by our right wing friends.

Some of the same people now hinting at armed insurrection.

Go figure.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on June 19, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

She and many others are not interested in a democracy or even a republic. They want an aristocratic,totalitarian oligarchy in which most citizens would have neither rights nor a vote.

Posted by: iyouwemeus on June 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, folks, get over it. Don't get the vapors over this. Stop fluttering your handkerchiefs.

Angle is a loon. Period.

If I'm Reid's campaign staff or any of the Dem committees, I leave this second amendment remedy stuff the hell alone. Its scary for us librul thinkers, but its too complicated.

Angle has already said - publicly - that she wants to privatize social security.

Angle has already said - publicly - that she wants the nuclear storage facility at Yucca Flats, a huge local issue in Nevada.

Reid has a big campaign warchest. He should buy airtime to pound and pound and pound those two issues.

His third line of attack should be: why is she afraid of debates? (She won't)? why is she afraid to talk to you, the Nevada voters, through our local newspapers and broadcast stations? What is she afraid of?!

He should use his free media to do the same.

Posted by: efgoldman on June 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe her supporters should be polled, especially those pot-bellied gas bags dressed in their cute cammies, how they would feel going up against the 82nd Airborne or the 1st Marine division; not to mention the United States Air Force. My old infantry division, admittedly a rag-tag lot, could take out the entire State of Nevada. Armed rebellion? Bring it on...

Posted by: buddy66 on June 19, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from asking her how the wording of the Second Amendment applies to her losing an election, the follow-up question needs to be, "Exactly what is it you plan to do if you lose at the ballot box?"

What is more frightening, actually, is the thought that a substantial number of Nevadans will vote for her no matter what she says! What the Senate doesn't need is another obstructionist lunatic, tearing this country apart. Ours wouldn't be the first democracy to implode because it could no longer govern itself.

We need to get rid of the Senate.

Posted by: rrrk1 on June 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

In her radio interview with Lars Larson, Angle actually said: "I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

She did NOT say "vote Harry Reid out"; she said "take Harry Reid out", just after having referred to using guns in a revolution against the government. I thought that it was illegal to threaten the lives of sitting Senators, as Angle has done here. Is the FBI looking into this?

Posted by: josef on June 19, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Does Harry Reid have Secret Service protection? If not, why not?

Apparently, nothing a right wingnut says or does has any legal consequences, so shouldn't there at least be someone ready to knock the Senate Majority Leader out of the path of the bullet?

Posted by: Zandru on June 19, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Harry Reid is well protected. Prominent American politicians died from assassination through most of our history. For well over a century, part of the ethos of an American politician is that he was approachable. Abraham Lincoln had almost no security even five years into a bloody civil war. One hundred years later, a president, a leading presidential candidate, and a major civil rights leader died of assassination within a short period o of time, and later both Ford and Reagan survived failed assassination attempts.
All through this time the security bubble has expanded, but it has also started to work. So far, we have not had a political assassination in decades. Harry Reid undoubtably has protection. The Secret Service has grown more capable, while random loonies and small conspiracies have not.

Posted by: philogratis on June 19, 2010 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

"The Secret Service has grown more capable, while random loonies and small conspiracies have not."
Posted by: philogratis on June 19, 2010 at 10:00 PM

I can't find either the source or the exact wording of the old cliché that applies here -- something to the effect of, "We have to succeed every day. They have to get lucky just once."
While the sociopaths and other assorted sickos on the extreme "right" may not have gotten any more capable (which is an assumption; there are a lot of ex-military among them), they're clearly greater in both absolute number and in proportion to the population, and in volume -- and the corporatist media eagerly hand them big megaphones. (Plus of course they're being egged on by people in positions that confer considerable authority.) All of this represents considerable change from previous eras, and not for the better.
If you believe in prayer, get started.

Posted by: smartalek on June 20, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

One might ask Sharron Angle: if elected to the US Senate, will you bring firearms into the chamber and then exercise 2nd amendment remedies when votes do not go your way?

Posted by: Scott on June 22, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Jefferson say something similar when he wrote of the 2nd amendment?

& what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that his people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Col. William S. Smith, 1787

Posted by: Robert on June 29, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK



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