- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 15, 2010

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele rebuked top Democratic spokesmen Thursday for personal attacks that go beyond the pale, including suggestions that Senate candidate Sharron Angle wants her political opponents to die and that he is rooting for U.S. defeat in Afghanistan.

He also is getting unexpected help on the latter count from commentators normally aligned with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan this week said, in a reference to old health care debates, that Mrs. Angle wishes death on her opponents.

Mrs. Angle, a Nevada Republican backed by Sarah Palin and a “tea party” favorite, leads her Democratic rival, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in the polls.

During the fight over the health care bill, Mrs. Palin and some other Republicans predicted that the bill would result in “death panels” that would ration resources and decide which ill patients would or would not get expensive lifesaving treatments. Democrats denounced the claims.

“While ‘death panels’ were nowhere to be found in his health insurance reform bill, it looks like Sarah Palin can find a one-woman version of one in Nevada where Sharron Angle thinks people who criticize her political positions should die,” Mr. Sevugan said. “Her sentiments are sick, but that fact that Republicans endorse, as their standard-bearer in Nevada, someone who wishes death upon her critics and calls for ‘Second Amendment remedies’ to deal with her political opposition is just as disturbing.”

In an e-mail to The Washington Times on Thursday, Mr. Steele denounced the attack.

“In politics, tough talk comes with the territory. But there is a line that should not be crossed. Making personal attacks - and claiming any candidate wants their opponents to die - is not just over the line, it denies basic human dignity,” Mr. Steele said.

The jagged-edged comments began last week when Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse accused Mr. Steele of acts verging on treason - and supposedly “betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan.”

Just before the July Fourth holiday, Mr. Steele created a political furor by telling donors at a Connecticut fundraiser that history shows that a land war in Afghanistan is a fool’s errand and calling it President Obama’s war.

Last week, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who describes himself as a political liberal, called Mr. Woodhouse’s exaggerated rhetoric dangerous.

“I have some empathy for Woodhouse, who must be weary of dealing with the other side’s demagoguery day after day,” Mr. Dionne wrote in his regular column. “But this is dangerous stuff in a democracy and particularly perilous from a party that, less than two years ago, rightly insisted it could oppose the Bush administration’s foreign policy on thoroughly patriotic grounds.”

Some Democrats also saw more than a hint of hypocrisy in the Woodhouse attack on Mr. Steele coming after a vote by a majority of House Democrats to require that Mr. Obama present a plan by April to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald, long a fierce critic of the Bush administration, called Mr. Woodhouse’s statement “truly repellent” and compared the DNC’s tactics to those of former chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove and called them “poisonous” and “manipulative.”

Mr. Greenwald, whose column on the subject also chastised Mr. Steele for not noting that Afghanistan was invaded under a Republican administration, also called out other liberals for similarly “replicating the worst of the GOP rhetoric.”

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