I’m half-tempted to give Rep. Bob Etheridge the Carol Shea-Porter Award for Hypocrisy, except that would be a little unfair to Shea-Porter. She won her New Hampshire election by making a name for herself at her predecessor’s town-hall meetings with her frequent barbed questions, but now won’t hold similar meetings to avoid getting the same treatment. As far as I know, though, Shea-Porter hasn’t yet assaulted someone for taking her advice to get more engaged in politics. Here’s Etheridge from three years ago, offering this advice to young adults in this Generation Engage podcast:
“Get involved,” Etheridge advises, but apparently that advice is … limited. When a generation engages by questioning his policies and judgment, then ol’ Bobby E doesn’t seem nearly as keen on educational opportunities as he was when he worked in the school system. Apparently, Etheridge hasn’t learned a basic political lesson in the years since: wherever a camera appears, publication on YouTube or Eyeblast will follow shortly. Beating up a constituent will mean a lot more engagement by your constituents, and the incumbent won’t much like the results.
I’ll be speaking with Renee Ellmers, Etheridge’s opponent, on The Ed Morrissey Show today. Don’t miss it.
Update: Dave Weigel reports that Etheridge has issued an apology:
“I have seen the video posted on several blogs,” says Etheridge. “I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction, and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”
Despite attempts by some to defend Etheridge, what he did was indefensible. He should have just walked away without answering if he didn’t want to “engage.” Instead, he physically attacked someone on the street who asked him a question.
Democrats have excused themselves from holding town halls since last summer because they accused protesters of fomenting violence. There is more violence in this video than at all of the Tea Party events I’ve attended. Just sayin’.
Also, the “question his authoritah” was not a dig at Etheridge’s Southern accent, as one commenter objected, but a South Park reference.
Update II: Ellmer responds first to John Hawkins at Right Wing News.