Coal Tattoo

Should everyone cool off the coalfield rhetoric?

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Regular readers of Coal Tattoo know that one of the things I’ve tried to do with this blog is encourage folks with various views coal industry issues to talk more respectfully with each other — and to tone down the political rhetoric, whether it’s about a “war on coal” or comparisons between mountaintop removal and genocide. As the debate continues to heat up, I’ve had more than one long-time activist comment privately that they’re surprised no one has gotten shot yet.

Now, in the wake of Saturday’s terrible murders in Arizona, there’s plenty of talk about the need to calm things down, and avoid the harsh tone of political discourse turning into the harsh realities of violence (See today’s New York Times editorial and this commentary from The Atlantic’s James Fallows).

A lot of the media coverage has focused on Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs ad,” but I did happen to notice that Tom Brokaw mentioned West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s “Dead Aim” advertisement this morning on MSNBC. And I’m told that David Gregory mentioned it on Meet the Press yesterday.

Remember that ad?

That’s right, in the middle of an incredibly heated time on the Appalachian coalfields — with very emotional debate over potential restrictions on mountaintop removal, possible limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and a very deadly year that included the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years — our then-Governor, thought that showing himself using a gun to solve a political issue was a good thing to do …

Now-Sen. Manchin issued a statement very soon after Saturday’s terrible shootings in Arizona, saying:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, and all of the innocent victims of this unspeakable and horrific tragedy. Gayle and I offer our heartfelt sympathies and pray for comfort to the families of all those killed and injured.

But over on the Gazette’s Squawk Box blog, my friend Alison Knezevich asks:

What about our own Sen. Joe Manchin’s “Dead Aim” campaign ad, where he shot a rifle and promised to “take dead aim” at the federal cap and trade bill?

Politico named the ad one of the “top 10 political moments of 2010.” Time Magazine ranked it a top campaign ad.

I wonder what Manchin would say about it now.

UPDATED: What does Manchin say now? Read this new post on the Gazette’s Squawk Box blog to find out …