The Corner

Sebelius: Some Take Rhetoric as ‘Call to Action’

Hours before President Obama addresses the nation in Tucson, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was at the center of the tumultuous health-care debate, spoke with National Review Online at the Capitol about the state of political speech.

Responding to our query about the merit of “heated rhetoric,” Sebelius said she welcomes “vigorous” political debate, calling it a “great part of our democracy” that “should be encouraged.”

That said, Sebelius has some concerns. “Sometimes incendiary language is really not helpful,” she told us. “To assume that everyone can process, in the same way, what may be symbolic language — but is taken by some as a call to action — needs to be thought about.”

“Hopefully we can continue to have vigorous, animated, and engaged debates to educate the public, and kind of tamp down a little bit on the speech that would lead people to feel that violence is appropriate or that we hate one another,” Sebelius concluded. “Hate speech — there is not a lot of room for that in a democracy.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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