Former Rep. Kanjorski, who Called for the Execution of a Gubernatorial Candidate, on Civility in Politics


Here's former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), writing in today's New York Times:

We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.


If Kanjorski, who was not re-elected in November, is familiar to people outside the district that let him go, it's probably because of the comments he said last fall about Florida Republican Rick Scott, who went on to win the Sunshine State's gubernatorial race. Here's Rep. Kanjorski:

"That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."

In the same piece from the October 23, 2010 Scranton Times Tribune, the newly minted advocate of civility and respect also called health insurance bigwigs "blood suckers" and said President Obama was "a terrible wielder of power, terrible."

Kanjorski's other claims to fame include admitting that Democrats in 2008 "kinda stretched the facts" about their commitment to ending various wars and being at the center of what Politico called "A twisted tale of congressional earmarking," involving $9.25 million steered to a company in Kanjorksi's district. 

Here he is, being confronted about the former:

Hat tips: Washington Examiner blog and CEI's Hans Bader.

I don't have a particular issue with Kanjorski's rhetoric, which is incredibly graphic in a way that more generic "targeting" talk is clearly not. But it seems odd that the former elected official who called for the execution of a candidate wouldn't mention that in an op-ed about the need for civility. As someone who taught remedial writing and freshman composition, I would argue that sort of mea culpa would have made his piece more persuasive. At least Kanjorski did stress that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' "attacker had no grand political point."