Republican Congressman and 2012 Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan learned a bitter lesson today about the increasingly hostile tone of American Politics. Ryan planned to attend President’s inauguration to offer his congratulations to Mr. Obama and to “join the country in celebrating this American tradition.” Sadly, Obama supporters were not in a welcoming mood and Mr. Ryan was loudly booed by the partisan crowd as he left his office to attend the ceremony. Making matters even worse, the booing was instigated by a member of Obama’s Department of Justice, Dan Freeman, who proudly boasted about his behavior on his Twitter page.
Mr Freeman first came to the attention of the public in the aftermath of the Black Panther Voter Intimidation Case, when former DOJ Attorney J. Christian Adams accused the Department of Justice of dropping the case for political reasons. Freeman was hired by Attorney General Holder to work in the DOJ’s controversial Voting Rights Section after completing a fellowship at the ACLU. An outspoken critic of the Republican party, Freeman built his credentials by attacking the Bush Administration’s security policies and working to free the Guantanamo detainees.
Americans are used to a vigorous political debate, but many observers from both sides of the political spectrum were upset by Freeman’s behavior. One might wonder how the President feels about a high ranking member of his Administration instigating the public booing of a member of Congress who was making a very conciliatory gesture to Mr. Obama. Certainly, Mr. Freeman must be wishing he never posted his snide remarks on his Twitter account.
The assault on Mr. Ryan did not end with Dan Freeman. During the inauguration festivities, when the Jumbotron screen displayed an image of Congressman Ryan, a loud boo was heard from the pro Obama Crowd. Even the President took a jab at the Republican Congressman, when he singled out Ryan’s “Takers and Makers” campaign rhetoric for some friendly criticism during the Inauguration address:
“The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Ryan, for his part, maintained his dignity throughout the day. Earlier, he tweeted congratulations to Mr. Obama and posted a thoughtful message on Facebook. Unlike Dan Freeman, Mr. Ryan used Social Media to share in the spirit of reconciliation and to promote American values. While he is aware of the political battles to come, Mr. Ryan chose to share in the spirit of the occasion and acknowledge that both he and the President serve at the pleasure of the American people.