Let this episode’s days be few

By Walt Braun

Kansans who want House Speaker Mike O’Neal to resign will need more ammunition than an email he sent to colleagues in which he appropriated Scripture for a political comment.

Then again, the 21,000 people who signed an online petition initiated by the organization Faithful America can’t really expect Rep. O’Neal to step down. They’ll have to settle for trying to embarrass him and whittle away at his authority.

What they’re up in arms about is part of Rep. O’Neal’s email borrowed from Psalm 109 that includes the phrase “let his days be few” in remarks about President Barack Obama.

That, those who seek Rep. O’Neal’s resignation say, constituted a wish that President Barack Obama die prematurely.

We suppose that’s a possible interpretation, but it’s a reach. To believe it, we’d have to be willing to assume the absolute worst of politicians and also assume that Rep. O’Neal really wants President Obama to die.

Given the ugliness of the political climate these days, it’s not so hard to assume the worst of politicians. But to believe that the Kansas House speaker would wish for the president’s death and share it with other lawmakers is idiotic. It’s idiotic even though he’s a staunch Republican who we suspect doesn’t want President Obama to succeed.

Rep. O’Neal, predictably, denies wishing for the president’s death. He says his reference had to do with the president’s days in office — that President Obama would be defeated in next November’s election.

He’s apologized to those who misinterpreted his intent or were “otherwise offended.” Perhaps that’s what politicians have to do sometimes, even if it isn’t necessary. It certainly wasn’t necessary to apologize to any Democrats who would exploit this episode for political advantage and would like nothing more than for Rep. O’Neal’s own days (in the Legislature) to be few.

As for whether President Obama’s days in office ought to be few, we’re less certain than Rep. O’Neal is — even though President Obama has underachieved. For one thing, Republicans haven’t chosen their nominee. If we would fault Rep. O’Neal on this matter, it’s for his assumption that whomever the Republicans nominate — even, apparently, Newt Gingrich — would be an improvement.

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