Etheridge & feeling ambushed -UPDATED

There is a right way and a wrong way to handle it, when a stranger comes up to you with a flip camera and asks you a question you don’t want to answer. Democrat Congressman Bod Etheridge demonstrates the wrong way.

Cameras are ubiquitous to the culture, and elected officials who (at least in theory) “serve” at the pleasure of the citizenry need to deal with that fact. If a citizen steps in the way and asks a question, and the elected official hasn’t the time or the inclination to parley, he can say that; he can ignore them; he or she can crack a joke or manage a pleasant brush off (Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, to his credit, is a master at the pleasant brush off); he can even say, “get away, kid, ya bother me, ” ala W. C. Fields, but he or she may not get physical.

Is congress feeling ambushed? Does congress perhaps have an inkling that the public–watching the profligate spending of “representatives” who have enacted legislation contrary to their wishes–is feeling ambushed, as well?

For a populace feeling ambushed by a bait-and-switch, ran-as-moderate-governs-as-radical-prince president and his congress, “do you fully support the Obama agenda” is a perfectly relevant question for this election year. I am wondering why the face of the “student” is blocked out, though, and who he is.

I have reached out to Etheridge’s press secretary, hoping for a response to just those questions. If you would like to ask the congressman something similar, his number is (202) 225-4531. His staff is being very polite, so be sweet back; they seem to have been caught off-guard on this.

Instapundit has more links and info on Etheridge’s opponent

Hot Air notes that, as is almost predictable, these days, You Tube had pulled the video, but has since restored it. UPDATE: Breitbart, not You Tube pulled and restored the video.


Yeah – he comes off as a jerk, but…when in Rome. It will be interesting to follow how this story plays out in the news media. Will it be a big story? Probably not, but apparently being prepared for ambush interviews from eager college kids is the next phase of media training for many on Capitol Hill.

I think I’ll file this one under “Remaking America.” Indeed.

UPDATE 1: A statement from Etheridge’s office:

“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

To his credit, he does not issue an apology “in any were offended.” It does seem to fall short, however; his response was not merely “poor” but violent. Without the video, would he ever have acknowledged his “poor” response? Your thoughts? Is the apology enough? Does the story go away, now? Should it?

Althouse has questions.

Ed Driscoll notes the trend of Dem violence

Ed Morrissey: More violence in this video than in all the tea parties, combined.

Moe Lane links to raw footage

Right Wing News has reaction from Etheridge’s opponent, Renee Ellmers

Jim Geraghty: has the cleverest headline

O/T but also of interest: Robert Reich says Obama should take over BP.

Also writing:
Little Miss Attila
Gateway Pundit
Brutally Honest
Michelle Malkin

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jeff

    He seemed deranged with anger. Very strange. The question was whether he supported Obama’s agenda. He could have given his reasons why, or ignored the question, but to lash out like this with a young person is disturbing. Maybe they really do think we work for them, instead of vice versa.

  • newguy40

    Something else may have been going on for the Congressman. Speaking as someone who has had a tuff time controlling my anger my whole life, I know that when I am sour for another reason, the spark that sets my anger off is often trivial.

    While I am saddened by this circumstance and in no way condone it, I will pray that the Congressman can find patience and humility. Praying the sorrowful mysteries helps me a great deal.

  • swampsniper

    That would have been a great time for me to test fire my pepper spray!

  • tim maguire

    I see two serious crimes committed in this video. Here’s a question for the congressman’s staff: how much jail time does the congressman anticipate and will he resign or wait to be impeached?

  • TC

    I certainly don’t condone the Congressman’s actions but it would be interesting to know if this is the 1st or 51st time he was approached in such manner.
    Opposition groups are not above pestering those they don’t like until they obtain just the “right”, i.e. wrong reaction on camera.

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  • Jill

    This part:

    “No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response.”

    seems to imply that the questioners were being overly intrusive and zealously partisan. I didn’t get that from the question he was asked.

  • Andrew B

    Americans are citizens who are increasingly being treated as subjects. If this politician cannot tolerate a simple, polite question, perhaps he should consider another line of work.

  • Mike M.

    Apology not acceptable. He was caught dead redhanded and it was therefore only to save face. As a Congressman, he thought he had every right to bully, hit’ grab, and gernsally manhandle.

    True contrition would be in evidence if he agreed to let the kid bully, hit, manhandle and humiliate him in return – or some equivalent penance.

    His attitude is and actions are everything wrong in government today, on every level.

    One apology doens’t even come close the the changes of attitude needed and that standard justice calls for. He needs to change his ways completely.

  • Maureen

    If it turns out that he was coming back from a wake for a close friend, or that a relative’s just passed away, something along those lines… I think people will cut him some slack. Otherwise, not so much.

    How much do people drink in DC, anyway? Helen Thomas, now Etheridge… it’s like top level political DC in the summer is The Thin Man without the mystery story.

  • John T

    I give it no more than 48 hours before it magically “disappears”.

    Imagine that?

    Imagine all the more if the (primary) individual “student” involved – the one chiefly being accosted/assaulted had, after giving fair warning – which he paranthetically did by virtue of requesting several times for the assailant to cease his assault via letting go – taken the assailant down to the hard pavement via one of two appropriate defense manuevers…….., preferentially a completely abrupt – most physical initial upper protruding reach with the left arm below the assailant’s right arm directly to the throat and simultaneously both breaking the right arm grip and grabbing the throat….., then again, most physically rotating and sweeping down a forced swing to the victim’s left, followed by a most physical restraint, incapacitating the assailant……….?
    Critically and objectively speaking in the face of the video recording clearly showing the assault, law enforecement would have no choice but to arrest the assailant, charging him with assault.

    But this will (again) never happen. Remember thug Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney? She walked on her assault of a Capitol police officer. What was it last year…….., arrested in Israel. Ya, that Cynthia McKinney, a really dignified thug if ever there was.

    These ruthless, beyond contemptable and imperious megalomaniac public servants seem to believe they are above the law. Who knew? Be sure to re-elect at every opportunity as you notoriously do, servile, worthless, ignorant proletariat American lemmings.

    ps: To the two “students”…….., press charges. Your assailant needs to spend time behind bars.

  • mm

    The “let them eat cake” school of governance. Why should the overlords have to trifle with the little people- can’t you see how hard he works to (fill in the blank- save the children, help the poor, save you unwashed from yourselves etc). He has given up SOOO much- how dare you question him.

  • Larry Sheldon

    How very Progressive-Democrat:

    “Ya’ nailed my *ss cold so here is my canned apology”

  • Ellen

    I’m about as mellow as they come and on a temper scale of 1 to 10, I’d be about a negative 6. I think I can understand the Congressman’s frustration, but there are better ways of handling it.

  • ccc

    Personally, I think his “apology” is weak: notice the comment about how “partisan” and “intrusive” politics has become, thereby suggesting that the college student’s polite approach and question were both. How is asking a DEMOCRAT congressman whether he supports a democratic President’s agenda partisan or intrusive?

  • AMDG

    His statement is risible and will spawn a process story in addition to his battery story.

    Ellen, I worked for a Congressman and while it is true there are frustrating aspects to the job, that can never excuse physically attacking another.

    This is how one handles it, by not reacting even if angry: link

    (Anchoress, I hope I can link here. If I am not supposed to, sorry.)

    [Your link did not work. Please embed the link if you know how and use the real url, not the tiny, which did not work. admin]

  • Sarah Kuvasz

    That constitutes criminal assault. Had it happened to me the Congressman would have spent some time in jail–to be greeted by a civil suit on his release. I can’t believe the kid didn’t press charges.

  • Susan

    Reich’s comment that Obama should take over BP and the rest of those airheads spouting nonsense is beyond ridiculous. It’s also beyond pathetic. At this point, I’m surprised they didn’t say that the only thing holding Obama back from doing the “right” thing and seizing BP would be starting an war with Britain. :P

  • Eleanor M.

    I object. There are two sides to this issue. This is an example of confrontational journalism. A student provokes the incident when he thrusts a question and a camera into the face of a person who deserves respect as a U. S. Congressman. No civility here. I’ll just step into your personal space: I am a reporter.

    What would John Wayne have done? I submit, he would grab the cam-pistol, throw it across the barroom floor, snarl, turn his back and walk out. Then again he might deck him.

    Sadly, the student is the hero who will get an “A” for his project because he created an embarrasing incident for the congressman, and managed to make the news.

    “Who are you?” Doesn’t everyone need to know who their adversary is? That makes it personal.

    [But even a cop has no right to get violent. And I'm not sure John Wayne would have slugged anyone. Victor Mclaughlan might have, though -admin]

  • Sally Thomas

    It’s what Sean Penn would have done.

  • http://theAnchoress Carolynn Spies

    I agree that the Congressman’s reaction was inexcusable. But I wonder–why didn’t the students identify themselves? Common courtesy would call for them to introduce themselves and explain their project, wouldn’t it?

  • Pam

    I agree with #21–common courtesy dictated that the students at least identify themselves as college students working on a project before they asked a perfectly legitimate question. Why couldn’t the student asking the question simply have said “Congressman, I am so-and-so, working on a project for (whatever) class and I would like to know—. THEN, if the Congressman opted to get shirty to the point of violence, there would be absolutely NO question regarding who was right and who was wrong. That said, the Congressman’s reaction most certainly over the top and unneccessarily forceful.

  • Blake

    To all of you suggesting the students should have identified themselves, I remind you of “Joe the Plumber.”

    The DNC is going to go all out to destroy the two who dared ask a congressman a simple question.

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  • Andrew B

    I have worked for over 25 years in jobs that require a high degree of public contact. I have been poked, shoved, screamed at, cursed at, threatened, mocked and, on one memorable occasion, had a child punch me as hard as he could while his father looked on approvingly.

    I never once laid a finger on any of my tormentors. If I had, I would have been terminated on the spot.

    Why is it that my employer (for part of that time, the US Government) could expect me to restrain myself, but we cannot ask the same of our elected–and well-paid–representatives?

    Was the kid a bit rude? Yes, mildly, although he spoke in a rational tone and said “sir” repeatedly. Was the congressman completely out of line? Absolutely.

  • Bender

    Is the apology enough?

    No, because it does not fully acknowledge what happened. Rather than minimize the incident with calling it a “poor response,” he needs to acknowledge that what he did was a criminal act. At best it was assault and battery, and given reports that he took one of the cell phones away from the student, it might even rise to the level of robbery.

    I don’t think he should go to jail, or even be criminally charged, but only on the condition that he fully admit what was done.

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  • skeeter

    He was not coming from a funeral, but from a Pelosi fundraiser, perhaps with a drink or two under his belt from the looks of it.
    He took the student’s flip camera/cell phone from him, attacked him, demanded his “papers” (“I have a right to know who you are.”) Uh, no, Congressman, you don’t.

    Well, the Rabbi who brought down Helen Thomas is receiving death threats. Joe the Plumber was vetted within an inch of his life. I do NOT blame these students for holding their anonymity – with this administration it is dangerous, as this assault plainly proves.

    In fact the only indicator that these students were in fact opposition was the consistent use of the word “Sir.” The question could have come from Right or Left easily.

    I am beyond disgusted with our political class.

    [I imagine it is specifically BECAUSE of Joe the Plumber and the Rabbi that the student has not pressed charges. -admin]

  • Jeff

    Yes he looked and sounded like he had had a few drinks, which makes it worse. Those of you trying to defend the inexcusable by saying, “well, the students should have given their names,” are you joking? The Congressman had no right to ask for their “papers” effectively; isn’t this what you say the Nazis used to do? He could have smiled and ignored them, kept on his way, or said something like he was off duty and needed to get home. Instead, he assaulted one or both of them. What a thug and bully. Let him try that again and see what happens.

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  • Doc

    Once again, this is as much a media scandal as a political scandal. (R) and (D) make all the difference in the world. If this thug had the (R) after his name his resignation would have been demanded by the corporate media already. Republican leadership would have fallen into line and demanded his resignation as well, and he likely would resign in short order. Different set of rules for Democrats. This will continue until the corporate media is crippled or is forced to change.

  • Gayle Miller

    The video gave me the impression that the representative was actually somehow mentally disturbed. His reactions were without affect and seemed to be almost robotic in nature. Frankly, I think that at the very least he’s an ass, but I suspect that the voters of North Carolina may see that there is more than usual thuggery at work!

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  • KDZ

    It’s absolutely beyond me why the college student didn’t punch the congressman in the face for arrogantly assaulting him. The “men” of today have been browbeaten into feminized submissiveness. I’m old enough to know when men were men, but those days are no longer.

  • Steve Colby

    My reaction to this episode is sadness, rather than anger.

    I can’t support the congressman’s actions, but neither can I support the behavior of the two “students” who initiated this series of events. To accost the congressman on the street and stick a camera in his face, without a civil introduction, is inexcusably (but not unforgivably) rude.

    Luke 17: Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. [NIV]