Here's Politico reporting:
The threats against members of Congress who voted for health care reform have turned from a nuisance to a serious law enforcement issue, increasing security concerns as lawmakers prepare to head home for spring recess.That's the lead paragraph. Let's see what turned the "nuisance" into a "serious law enforcement issue."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Capitol Police and the House sergeant at arms on Wednesday were brought into a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting, during which lawmakers expressed fear for their safety and the safety of their families.So Democrats held a meeting, the press was excluded, and high-level security personnel came in to hear expressions of their fear. Is this political theater or something more substantial?
The Capitol Police, according to several in the caucus meeting, encouraged members to report any incidents to the department. They also offered security assessments of district offices and even members’ homes.That is an unremarkable answer that police would give to anyone who expressed a nonspecific fear of violence. It's not the police alerting members of Congress based on something they have learned.
One Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Phil Hare of Illinois, said he knows several Democrats who have told their spouses to move out of the home districts while the lawmakers are in Washington.If what doesn't get under control?!
“If this doesn’t get under control in short time, heaven forbid, someone will get hurt,” Hare said.
And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters after a caucus meeting that members who feel in danger would “get attention from the proper authorities.”I get it. Some of them feel afraid. And if anything actually happens, like anybody else, they'll be able to call the police. What is the story here?
Hare is holding eight town hall meetings in his district over the recess and requested that the Capitol Police coordinate with his local police department to provide security. His wife has pleaded with him to cancel the events.He doesn't want to hear the anger. This looks like a trumped-up excuse to cancel the town halls.
“My wife is home alone, and I’m worried for her,” he said. “I am about to have my first grandchild. I don’t want to have to be worried.”Ah, but you were so brave to vote for the bill. To be fair, the bill was passed to help women and children, and Hare would like to continue his beneficence to women and children by not having to account for himself to the people.
Incidents are sprouting up all over the country.What are the incidents?
The gas lines were cut at the house of Virginia Democratic Rep. Thomas Perriello’s brother, near Charlottesville, Va., prompting an FBI investigation. Local police are making routine checks of the home. A tea party activist from southern Virginia posted online the address of Perriello’s brother, thinking it was the lawmaker’s.I really want to know the details about this one. Who did it and why? Let me see the photographs. I want to know all about it. I don't like the home addresses being posted on line, and I don't like even peaceful protests at any individual's house. I can see why you'd be upset that your address is known. But anyone could commit an act of vandalism (including dirty tricksters on the Democrat's side). Is the press following up about what, exactly, happened? Or are they complacently passing this story on to be used to propagate the violence meme?
The only other "incident" cited in the article was a "brick... thrown through the window of the Democratic Party’s Cincinnati office." Did anyone see who did it? Was a note attached? Who did it and why? Again, this can be a dirty trick by someone on the Democrats' side.
Clearly, those who are angry about the bill should limit themselves to speech and apply pressure to others in their movement not to cross the line into any kind of violence or damage to property. Any incident of that kind will be greatly magnified in the press and used to undermine the movement. But we should all be vigilant about the way the Democrats and their friends in the press are leveraging these stories for political purposes, exaggerating and failing to check facts. We should closely monitor the journalism, the rhetoric, and the leaps of logic. Hare's remark "If this doesn’t get under control" has a chilling generality to it. Dissent and protest should not "get under control." It should be free.
UPDATE: House Republican Whip Eric Cantor criticizes Democrats for using reports of violence for political purposes. At the same time, he throws out a story about a bullet hitting a window at his campaign office. Is he doing the same thing he's criticizing others for doing? Perhaps, to some extent, but he doesn't make any insinuation about who did it. His point is that violence is serious, but it's random and somehow separate from the real political debate and should be dealt with in a neutral way, not exploited to make rhetorical points.