Violent rhetoric has taken over Washington in the midst of the ongoing federal shutdown, and President Obama is leading the way.
But the White House says the president’s use of “gun” and “hostage” metaphors is OK because Republicans are doing it, too.
“Numerous Republicans have used the hostage analogy. Numerous Republican commentators have used the gun-to-the-head analogy. I hardly think this is unique,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday afternoon.
He was responding to a question about Mr. Obama’s remarks earlier in the day, when the commander in chief used vivid gun imagery before an audience at a Rockville, Md., construction company.
“You don’t negotiate by putting a gun to the other person’s head, or worse yet by putting a gun to the American people’s head by threatening a shutdown,” Mr. Obama said of the GOP’s strategy.
Less than three years ago, on the heels of the deadly shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Mr. Obama now famously called on Americans to use “words that heal, not wound.” That shooting, along with other recent massacres, turned attention to careless speech and the use of gun metaphors and other violent terms.
Even after the Navy Yard shooting last month, such language again has become commonplace in the middle of political and fiscal crises.
But Mr. Obama isn’t the only offender, and there’s plenty of blame to go around in both political parties.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have stepped right up to the line in recent days, and perhaps crossed it.
Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, recently called some of his colleagues “lemmings with suicide vests” because of their willingness to shut down the government if Obamacare continues to be implemented.
Rep. George Miller, California Democrat, took the terrorist metaphor even further, accusing Republicans of waging a “jihad” against the federal government in order to dismantle health care reform.
“So when you were on a jihad against Americans’ access to health care, shutting down the parks wasn’t a problem,” Mr. Miller said on the House floor on Wednesday.