If outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) thought he'd get some
relief from the nation's conservative talk hosts when he equated some with
foreign hate groups and blamed them for an increase in threats on politicians
and their families, he was mistaken.
Daschle's comments quickly became talk-show fodder, with the very hosts he
targeted dismissing the senator's charges as post-election complaining.
Popular conservative Sean Hannity -- a likely Rush Limbaugh "wanna-be," in
Daschle's eyes -- who provides political perspectives on both a syndicated radio
show and on Fox News Channel, said Daschle owed him and every radio talk-show host an apology.
Daschle's primary target, Rush Limbaugh, played Daschle's comments on his
show Wednesday and told his listeners, "Every time the Democrats lose
either elections or a major issue, they blame me, they blame talk radio and
they blame you." Limbaugh asked why Daschle hadn't raised the issue before
Daschle -- whose office received anthrax-laced mail late last year, though he
did not refer specifically to that attack -- told reporters, "What happens
when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren't
satisfied just to listen. They want to act because they get emotionally
invested. And so the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically
and on our families."
He continued, "When I was accused of being an obstructionist, there was a corresponding and
very significant increase in the number of issues that my family and I had to
deal with. And I worry about that."
Daschle added, "We see it in foreign countries and we think, 'Well, my god, how can this
religious fundamentalism become so violent?' Well, it's that same shrill
rhetoric. It's that same shrill power that motivates ... Pretty soon it's a
foment that becomes physical in addition to just verbal, and that's happening in
The suggestion that talk-radio attacks on Daschle and others is leading
directly to threats may be new, but the criticism of those attacks by top
Democrats is not. Limbaugh was the target of criticism by President Bill Clinton
in 1994, who, somewhat ironically, chose a call-in radio show on KMOX(AM) St.
Louis to slam Limbaugh and others in the media for the "constant, unremitting
drumbeat of negativism and cynicism."