This morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) justified the disturbing racist and homophobic epitaphs that angry tea baggers hurled yesterday at Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and other House Democrats. Nunes insisted that everyone has a right to “smear” whoever they want and that the tea baggers’ behavior was understandable given the “crazy totalitarian tactics” that he alleges Democrats are engaged in:
SCULLY: A lot of angry comments aimed at a couple of your colleagues, including Barney Frank and Congressman John Lewis, using the “n” word as some of the protesters jeered at him as he walked through the halls of the Capitol.
NUNES: Yeah, well I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy. I think, you know, there’s people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it. It’s not appropriate. And I think I would stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people protesting, that all of them were doing that –
SCULLY: — those are just some of the stories.
NUNES: Of course. I think the left loves to play a couple of incidents here or there.
Later in the show, a caller said he “took exception” to what Nunes said because he “sort of justified” the racial slurs. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who followed Nunes’ appearance on C-Span this morning, repudiated his remarks. Becerra acknowledged that “it’s a free country, we get to say what we wish,” but added, “I don’t think there’s any excuse that can be given and there never should be.” Watch it:
“Nobody condones that at all. There were 30,000 people here in Washington yesterday. And, yes, there were some very awful things said,” stated Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) on ABC. On Meet the Press, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) insisted that these “few isolated incidents” shouldn’t obscure the fact that “millions of Americans fear the impact of the Democrats’ healthcare reform.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele dismissed the incidents as consisting of “a handful of people who just got stupid.” Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) took a somewhat harsher tone when he stated that he decried the behavior of the protesters “in the strongest terms.”