This exchange with Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) and a reported "college student" is on YouTube and making the rounds of the blogs. The Congressman's actions are, in my view, completely inappropriate. While I understand that many Representatives are probably a bit more cautious with their safety than perhaps in the past, I did not see anything to warrant such a reaction from him.
From the video, it seems clear that Congressman Etheridge created the situation when he stops and accosts the young man. The reaction is totally and completely out of line, and he should have just kept walking. There was no reason to stop and put a hand on this much smaller kid. He clearly did not appear to be a threat.
I expect his opponent in November, Republican Renee Ellmers, will be utilizing this video in an ad. She is still unlikely to win, and she would be wrong for the district given her stated views on her website. Etheridge's district is rated a solid D seat by most reputable organizations. It's likely that by the time November rolls around that this will likely be forgotten by the voters that have backed Etheridge since he first ran for a Congressional seat in 1997. That's wholly unfortunate, in my view.
Unfortunately, Etheridge's apology does not go far enough in my view. It rings hollow, sounds political, and reads like this:
“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”
I don't care what the purpose of the person with the camera is, conduct like this is unbecoming a member of the Upper or Lower House of Congress. Etheridge came across as a bully. That makes the entire House of Representatives and every member look bad. The House should take formal action against Etheridge and tell its members by its actions that this type of conduct is not tolerable. The enraged bully in the video certainly looks different in this picture from his Congressional website.
It's days like this that I'm proud to be represented by a man like Andre Carson. Not only does Carson understand the way the blogosphere, citizen journalism, and social networking have effected politics, but he acts in a manner that all of us on either side of the aisle can be proud. The North Carolina 2nd District should be so lucky.