From The New York Times:
On Thursday, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking Republican leader in the House, said that Democratic members of Congress were not the only ones who had been the targets of threats and vandalism in recent days. He said that he had been threatened, too, and that a bullet had been fired through the window of his campaign office in Richmond.
But a preliminary investigation indicated that the bullet was probably not aimed at his office, the Richmond police said Friday.
Mr. Cantor drew attention to the incident at a news conference he held Thursday to criticize Democrats for publicizing the threats and vandalism several Democratic lawmakers have faced since they voted for the health care bill. Then he made a dramatic announcement.
“Just recently, I have been directly threatened,” he said. “A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I have received threatening e-mails.
But I will not release them because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent.”
A preliminary investigation indicated that the incident in question took place around 1 a.m. Tuesday, when a bullet was apparently fired into the air, striking the office window as it traveled back downward, the Richmond police said in a statement.
The bullet struck the window with enough force to break a pane, the police said, but did not penetrate the blinds inside the window.
At his news conference, where he declined to take questions from reporters, Mr. Cantor had urged that threats be left to law enforcement officials, and not used for publicity purposes.
“Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials,” he said. “It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.”
Yeah, you wouldn’t even have mentioned a stray bullet falling from the sky into an office that just happens to be in the same building your office is in (with no signs or any other indications that it’s your office and is not in your district and is not even listed on your website) if you didn’t have to point out that the Democrats are making way too big a deal over getting death threats and having their family members threatened.
Threats against members of Congress who voted for the health-care overhaul have put law enforcement on alert around the nation and have led the Capitol Police and House officials to tighten security for lawmakers.
Capitol Police are providing threat assessments and security recommendations for House members’ district offices and family homes, and are encouraging lawmakers and staff to report any harassment to them.
“The intensity of some of these threats is alarming,” said Jamie Fleet, staff director of the House Committee on Administration, which has jurisdiction over the Capitol Police, the agency responsible for protecting members of Congress.
Police are investigating “dozens” of incidents considered serious enough to warrant law enforcement attention, Fleet said in an interview.
At least four district offices of Democratic lawmakers were vandalized, in Arizona, Kansas, and New York. Ten members of Congress have disclosed threats against themselves or their families.
From TAPPED at THE AMERICAN PROSPECT:
Over the weekend, the angry crowds that Republicans had so effectively leveraged against the Democrats during the health-care debate crossed the line from asset to liability when the protesters began screaming slurs and, in one case, spitting in a lawmaker’s face. There have also been acts of vandalism, and in one particularly frightening example, the gas line to the home of Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello‘s brother was cut after a Tea Party activist posted his address, thinking it belonged to the congressman. Jim Clyburn and Bart Stupak have had nooses faxed to their offices. Law enforcement held a briefing with Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday about how to deal with security threats.
Yesterday, Minority Whip Eric Cantor sought to reverse the narrative, saying that he had also been threatened and someone had shot a bullet through the window of his campaign office in Richmond.
It turns out, though, that the Richmond police said the bullet was “randomly fired”:
Richmond police say the bullet that hit a window of Republican Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor’s office had been randomly fired skyward.
So in the midst of accusing Democrats of “using these incidents as media vehicles for political gain,” Cantor misrepresented a random incident as an act of political intimidation or harassment, which it does not appear to have been.
Democrats have been a bit precious in their response to these threats in order to make Republicans look bad. But it’s also true that the GOP has spent the last year firing up its base with hyperbole about totalitarianism, and now that some small elements of that fired up base are starting to make the GOP look bad because they’ve taken these outsize complaints at face value. You can’t complain about people using these incidents for “political gain” when you’ve spent the last year portraying every right-wing outburst as evidence of justifiable civil unrest in the face of impending tyranny.