Commentary

Saunders: At least Sen. Bob Rucho is standing by his words – ridiculous as they are

bsaunders@newsobserver.comDecember 16, 2013 

LEGISLATE5NE072513CEL

Sen. Bob Rucho (R) listens to a question about his Voter ID bill during session Thursday July 25, 2013 in Raleigh, N.C.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

Here are three immutable laws of politics, especially in the South:

• Don’t criticize barbecue. (This means you, Rufus.)

• Don’t praise Obama.

• Don’t compare anything to the Holocaust. Or slavery. Or genocide. Don’t even think about mentioning Hitler – unless you’re talking about Hitler.

Former N.C. Attorney General Rufus Edmisten learned the first lesson when he was running for governor in 1984 and complained about having to eat so much of “that damnable stuff” while campaigning.

Some people, including the former candidate, blame that ’cue miscue with sinking his campaign.

The second one – about not praising Obama down here? Self-evident.

Dirt on the coffin

State Sen. Bob Rucho just learned the third law when he compared the effects of the Affordable Care Act to the Nazis, Soviets and terrorists.

If you thought civil discourse died last summer when professional Obama-hater Ben Carson said Obamacare was the worst thing to hit America since slavery, Rucho is tossing dirt on the coffin.

Because I’m known far and wide for giving people the benefit of the doubt, I called up Rucho, a Matthews Republican, and asked him whether people misinterpreted his comments about Nazis. And terrorists. And swords. Don’t forget swords.

“That’s the understatement of the year,” he said, laughing. “The bottom line is that (the tweet) was designed to bring awareness to the fact that we’re making a huge change in health care policy that rivals the impact and the financial, economic and life-changing events that the wars did.

“When Justice Roberts uses his pen to say that Obamacare is the law of the land, he has actually had a greater impact on what happens to Americans both financially and economically than those wars did.”

What he tweeted

Trying to convey a cogent thought in 140 characters is fraught with risk, and things can get lost in translation, no doubt about it. I’m pretty sure, though, that that’s not what Rucho tweeted.

This is: “Justice Robert’s (sic) pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then (sic) the swords of the Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined.”

Did the Nazis actually use swords? Seriously: Did they?

Whether they did or not, Rucho’s tweet is not nearly as thoughtful as his “revised” explanation, is it? He also said during our conversation that Obamacare is part of the “socialist” system. Wow. That’s the same thing opponents of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security said about those government programs that are now such an important part of people’s lives.

In our conversation, Rucho blamed “elitists” for opposing and misrepresenting what he meant and for defiling his Twitter page with profane responses. By elitists, perhaps he means people such as N.C. Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope, who urged Rucho to apologize.

No. Don’t. Please, don’t. It is refreshing to hear a pol say what he or she means, even if it is ridiculous and frightens the bejesus out of us. I’ll take honest lunacy over a meaningless apology any day. Despite trying to shade the wording, Rucho is standing by his sentiments. Good for you, homes.

Besides, what’s more frightening than an elected legislator comparing a bill seeking to provide people with health care to war atrocities and evil men flying airplanes into buildings?

I’ll tell you what’s more frightening: the fact that many people agree with him. Want to bet that all of those people already have insurance?

“I’ve seen those comments,” Rucho said proudly.

So have I, and the “Yeas” outnumber the “Nays” on some websites I’ve visited.

Rucho said he sees his problem as one of perception. “Just because you use the word Nazi, which to me means World War II, a lot of people try to use that to destroy the messenger rather than criticize the message,” he said. “They read more into it than was there. Nowhere did I mention ‘Holocaust,’ or persecution of the Jews or gypsies. It’s almost like the elitist group was trying to thwart my ability to bring a serious problem to the people’s attention.”

Y’all stop thwarting Sen. Rucho’s ability to get his thoughts out – please – and cease putting profanity on his Twitter page. As he said, “I have children who read that.”

“The point I’m trying to make,” he concluded, “is that people need to pay attention. I still think (Obamacare) is a serious problem that rivals the issue of the sword. You can’t keep your head in the sand when this kind of action is going on.”

Rest assured, Sen. Rucho. “In the sand” is not where we think your head is.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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