The Denver Post editorial board Tuesday upbraided Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck for referring to birthers as “dumbasses.” Answering questions posed by a Democratic operative, Buck asks: “Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on camera?” The audio tape has made the rounds. The Post writes that rival GOP candidate Jane Norton had a “more reasonable” approach to fringe-topic questions and that Buck’s behavior provides more material for her to “paint [his] behavior as not befitting a would-be U.S. senator.” The Post said Buck’s “job is to respectfully disagree” with the birthers.
“We are on a job interview — a very long job interview,” the Post reports Norton saying at a Monday press conference. She said she expects questions will be repeated from one rally to the next. Fortunately, there is a video record of how Norton has “respectfully disagreed” with rally attendees pushing unenlightened views in the past. She has respectfully disagreed by not disagreeing at all.
Americans are now as much as ever battling over different interpretations of political respect and senatorial behavior.
It was out of one kind of respect that Norton sat in silence at a December appearance where an attendee twice disparagingly called President Obama “a Muslim” and where another insisted the “idiot” pro-abortion president wanted Americans to simply throw babies onto the road “with the garbage” to die. That tape has also made the rounds.
Buck’s language this past weekend was “colorful” and he is clearly crisis managing with certain members of the tea party movement. But he has respectfully disagreed repeatedly with the birther argument that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the country. In the tape, it seems clear, he is straight-talking his frustration with the continued priority the birther question assumes for some voters, given what he believes are the many greater problems facing the nation.
In doing so, Buck evinced another kind of respect and senatorial behavior– toward the voters, the birthers and the country.