Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal is refusing to resign his post in the wake of an uproar of his own making. In December, the legislator sent an email to his fellow Republicans asking them to pray Psalm 109, an unusual and mean-spirited psalm that calls for the death of a leader. The Psalm says, in lines 7-12:
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.’
Speaker O’Neal suggested the Psalm to his colleagues with this:
“At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
As his hateful, dumb and juvenile message has gone viral over the internet, O’Neill is pleading innocence. He says he is sincerely sorry, and that he was only referencing the “days be numbered” line, referring to Obama’s defeat in November.
It won’t wash. “Look it up!” he urged his friends. “Word for word!” We can only presume that O’Neill too had looked up the Psalm and read every word, and not just one line. Whether he intended to suggest President Obama’s death—as he almost certainly did— or only did so carelessly out of recklessness and stupidity really doesn’t matter. Especially in the hyper-partisan and hate-filled atmosphere of politics in 2012, no political leader who invokes images of violence and calls for the death of political adversaries can be tolerated by allies or opponents. To do so against the nation’s President reaches beyond intolerable to unconscionable. America does not need politicians who abuse the concept of prayer to inflame the vengeful and the unstable against the elected leader of our nation. Speaker O’Neill has neatly defined the point where incivility disqualifies an individual from public service, because his presence coarsens and poisons political discourse and makes it useless.
He must resign. Now. Kansas Republicans, if they want to retain any shred of respect and decency, must make him do it. He is a disgrace to his party, his state, and his country.
Note: Earlier this month, O’Neal came under fire for sending another e-mail that compared Michelle Obama to the Grinch and referred to her as “Yo Mama.”