Sen. Orrin Hatch once called for a return to civility. So much for that

Friday , March 02, 2018 - 9:15 AM4 comments

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In June, Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote a column for Time magazine titled “I am re-committing to civility.”

The essay, published shortly after a shooter opened fire on Republicans playing baseball in Washington, D.C., contained this passage:

“Our words have consequences, and in an age of retweets, viral videos and shareable content, those words often echo well beyond their intended audience and context. It’s incumbent on all of us, then — from the President to Congress on down — to be responsible for our speech.”

Thursday, Hatch addressed the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. During his speech, The Hill reported, Hatch said this:

“[We] finally did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called ObamaCare,” Hatch said during his remarks. “Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic. That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen.”

He continued: “Now, some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met. And there are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time.”

A spokesman for the 84-year-old Republican insisted Hatch was joking, “obviously.”

Watch the video. He wasn’t joking. Speaking in front of a friendly audience, and with retirement looming at the end of the year, Hatch could simply no longer hide his contempt for Americans who disagree with him on the Affordable Care Act — an initiative that reduced Utah’s uninsured rate from 14 percent to 8.8 percent between 2013 and 2016.

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“The comments were obviously made in jest, but what’s not a joke is the harm Obamacare has caused for countless Utahns,” said Hatch’s spokesman, Matt Whitlock.

Ah. More restraint and civility.

Last summer, as he pondered a run for an eighth term, Hatch saw a chance to score political points by framing himself as a voice of calm and reason — at the same time, opening a bit distance between himself and President Donald Trump, who spews profanities and pick fights to energize his electorate.

But over the summer, Hatch allied himself with Trump, whom he says could be one of the greatest presidents in history.

"Mr. President, I have to say you're living up to everything I thought you would," Hatch told Trump in December as they celebrated passage of the GOP tax overhaul. "You're one heck of a leader."

As you pointed out, Senator, words have consequences. Someone who says what you did Thursday does not believe in civility.

You’re no longer to be believed.

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