Gaetz’ ‘Shoot and hang the nullifiers’ history lesson riles tea partiersby Dara Kam | December 5th, 2012
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has raised the hackles of Florida tea party activists on the warpath about Gaetz and other GOP leaders’ apparent willingness to go along with the once-reviled “Obamacare.”
With more than a dozen supporters backing her up, tea party lawyer KrisAnne Hall heatedly told a Senate committee exploring implementation of the federal health care act they should nullify the law because it is unconstitutional. The raucous crowd repeatedly burst into applaud and even booed one senator who refuted their position.
Hall had a short confrontation with Gaetz after the meeting and apparently sent him an e-mail explaining “the Founders’ position on State Sovereignty and nullification,” according to her blog.
Gaetz, a sharp-tongued history buff who often punctuates his arguments with sarcasm, replied to Hall and others with a history lesson about Andrew Jackson. First, Gaetz reminds Hall that he opposes the law and also believes it’s unconstitutional.
“As to nullification, I tend to favor the approach used by Florida’s first Governor, Andrew Jackson:
It is said that one evening, while he was president, General Jackson was interrupted in his reading in his bedroom by an alarmed military aide who breathlessly reported, “Mr. President, the “nullifiers” are in front of the Executive Mansion with torches and guns. They are screaming that each state has the right to decide for itself which federal laws to follow. They threaten to burn us down if you will not agree with them.”
Without lifting his head from his reading, Andrew Jackson said, “Shoot the first nullifier who touches the Flag. And hang the rest.”
I have sworn an oath on my father’s Bible before Almighty God to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. Count me with Andrew Jackson.
Senator Don Gaetz
The e-mail sparked a firestorm in the tea party community, including on Hall’s Facebook page.
“After sending Senator Don Gaetz my letter explaining the positions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on State Sovereignty, Mr. Gaetz says that citizens who agree with the writer of the Declaration of Independence should be summarily shot and hanged. Does that means Don Gaetz is in favor of shooting the many Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders who have said that they will not comply with this mandate? Notice the double-speak in his email below. He affirms his support for the Constitution and then demonstrates his utter ignorance of its meaning and purpose,” Hall wrote on her blog.
Caught outside the Senate Democratic suite where Gaetz lunched with Democratic Leader Chris Smith and others, Gaetz downplayed the brewing battle between the “nullifiers” and the president and clarified that he was not advocating shooting tea partiers.
“No. I’d have to shoot my son,” Gaetz said. Rep. Matt Gaetz is an even more conservative Panhandle lawmaker than his father.
Gaetz explained the use of the Jackson anecdote.
“That’s just an old tale of what was said about what Andrew Jackson said. I simply sent it to her as a way to try to let her know that you can still be civil about these issues and you don’t have to be outraged about every single thing. You can disagree without being uncivil,” he said.