Pittenger’s letter calling Obama ‘Enemy Number One’ just embarrassing

March 7, 2014 

Rubio vs. Pittenger

T. ORTEGA GAINES — ogaines@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

The following editorial appeared in the Charlotte Observer:

Robert Pittenger, who represents North Carolina’s 9th District, is the chair of the Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. As such, he’s acutely aware of the domestic and foreign threats the United States faces, including al-Qaida and other terrorists who might attack our country with chemical weapons or cripple our infrastructure with an electromagnetic-pulse attack.

“Many experts and high-ranking officials consider these unconventional tactics to be the greatest threats to our Nation,” Pittenger says on his website.

But the freshman congressman from Charlotte apparently thinks the U.S. faces an even greater threat.

That would be its president, Barack Obama.

In a fundraising letter revealed this week by blogger Andrew Sullivan, Pittenger writes: “You see, I am already on the front lines, taking seriously my oath of office: to defend the U.S. Constitution – and you and your fellow Americans – against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And for that I am being attacked from all sides, including from my fellow Republicans. My friend, make no mistake, Barack Obama is Enemy Number One!”

Well.

You probably can guess why Pittenger thinks the president is such a danger to the country he leads. It’s the Affordable Care Act – which is the go-to topic for Republicans trying to scare up voters and donations. (But just in case Obamacare isn’t frightening enough, Pittenger also says in the letter that Obama has an “Islamo-Communist upbringing.”)

Pittenger’s congressional office acknowledged the fundraising letter Wednesday, then quickly directed the editorial board to his campaign office. Pittenger campaign spokesman Kevin Wilkinson confirmed that the congressman approved the letter. He also said Pittenger was aware of all of the words it contained.

But, said Wilkinson: “We believe it was taken out of context.”

What kind of context could be missing from “Barack Obama is Enemy Number One”?

“It’s more that he’s a political enemy for Republicans.”

We should note that the return address on the envelope was not Robert Pittenger, Republican 9th District Representative. It was Robert Pittenger, Chairman, Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

That envelope also warned: “No Less Than Western Civilization Hangs In The Balance!”

Which is, of course, the kind of hyperbole we’ve grown accustomed to with politics. But when a U.S. congressman says the president is more dangerous than “all enemies, foreign and domestic,” he’s crossed into something more troubling. Pittenger’s letter feeds a hyper-partisanship that’s fracturing our country, and it gives justification to those who don’t settle for mere disagreement with the president. Demonization is their goal, and Pittenger gladly feeds their venom and fears.

And yes, the congressman has the same right to his opinion as any of his constituents. But we wonder whether staunch conservatives, or the rest of the 9th District he represents, believe that the president is a greater threat to our country than al-Qaida. We wonder, in fact, if Pittenger really believes it, or if he just embarrassed himself and his district for a few extra political points and dollars.

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