-- by Dave
UPDATE II: The stomper has been identified as Rand Paul's Bourbon County coordinator, Tim Profitt. More details upcoming.
In the past, whenever violence has broken out at American political events, it has become standard practice for the politicians whose campaigns inspire the acts -- on both sides -- to disavow the people involved and swiftly condemn their actions, making clear that this kind of behavior is deeply antidemocratic and unAmerican.
So Rand Paul went on Fox News' America's Newsroom this morning with the opportunity to do just that in response to last night's horrifying assault on a MoveOn protester, and here's the best he could come up with:
Paul: Well, we want everybody to be civil. We want this issue -- the campaign to be about issues. I will tell you that when we arrived, there was enormous passion on both sides. It really was something where you walk into a daze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up. And there was a bit of a crowd control problem. And I -- I don't want anybody to be involved, though, in things that aren't civil. I think this should always be about the issues, and is an unusual situation to have so many people so passionate on both sides, jockeying back and forth.
And it wasn't something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future it's going to be better.
Hello? Notice anything missing there?
How about the words "condemn violence"? How about pointing out that this kind of behavior has no place in any campaign on either side? Maybe just a smidge of concern for the health and well-being of the victim of the violence?
Nope. Because, obviously, that didn't occur to Rand Paul. Evidently, the supporter's behavior wasn't condemnation-worthy.
As Steve Benen observes:
Here's a hypothetical: if large, male union members had grabbed a young woman who worked with Tea Partiers, dragged her to the ground, and literally stepped on her head, would Rand Paul be on Fox News saying "it wasn't something that I liked," or might his response be a little stronger?
Indeed, at certain quadrants of the wingnutosphere, they're busy defending, even celebrating the violence.
Contrary to initial reports that Lauren Valle, the woman being assaulted, sustained no injuries, our sources at MoveOn tell us that Valle indeed was diagnosed with a concussion and is being hospitalized for treatment.
One of the two men involved in the assault has been identified as an open-carry advocate named Mike Pezzano:
Police are now seeking Pezzano and his cohort.
So I wonder when our liberal media are going to notice that we have a trend going here, eh?
-- Mentally unstable nutcases threatening liberal campaigners in Washington state, Illinois and Vermont.
-- A swastika-laden white-powder-terrorism attack on a Democratic congressman's offices.
-- Thugs hired by the Republican candidate in Alaska roughing up and handcuffing a reporter for asking questions at a public event.
-- Violent gunmen targeting liberal organizations after being inspired by right-wing talk-show hosts.
-- Republican congressional candidates who insist that a violent overthrow of the government is "on the table" if the 2010 Election fails to produce the desired right-wing takeover of Congress.
But of course, these are all "isolated incidents" that have nothing to do with each other, right?
Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress has more.
UPDATE: MoveOn's Justin Ruben has issued a statement:
We're appalled at the violent incident that occurred at the Kentucky Senate debate last night. Numerous news reports clearly show that the young woman--a MoveOn supporter--was assaulted and pushed to the ground by Rand Paul supporters, where one man held her down while another stomped on her head. This kind of violence has no place in American society, much less at a peaceful political rally.
Our first concern is obviously Lauren's health and well being. She is recovering, and we will release more details as we have them. We are concerned that no arrests have yet been made, and we hope those responsible will be brought to justice quickly, and that Rand Paul will join us in condemning this horrible act.
You see, it's really quite simple. When you have a bone of decency in your body.
UPDATE III: The Paul campaign issued this statement:
We understand that there was an altercation outside of the debate between supporters of both sides and that is incredibly unfortunate. Violence of any kind has no place in our civil discourse and we urge supporters on all sides to be civil to one another as tensions rise heading toward this very important election.
Funny that Rand himself couldn't say these words, isn't it?
And we'll see if they back up the words with action -- such as firing the campaign official who stomped on the woman's head.
[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]