Erickson shrugs off fallout from Souter comment

Macon City Councilman Erick Erickson said he’s seen only limited fallout from comments he made about retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Liberal blogs across the country already had seized on Erickson’s decision to label Souter a “goat ----ing child molester” in a message he published last week via the social networking Web site Twitter. Other Web surfers have since responded with their own opinions to the local and national conservative political blogs that Erickson runs, Peach Pundit and RedState.

But locally, Erickson said he’s gotten just a single e-mail — from a Democratic activist — suggesting that he resign his council seat. And it’s not an action he intends to take, he said.

“Most people have kind of laughed and said ‘Yeah, you shouldn’t have said it, but it’s pretty funny,’ ” Erickson said.

While he agrees he shouldn’t have made the statement, he wonders where the general outrage was when Democrats where comparing former President George W. Bush to Hitler.

Erickson said other council members have told him the Souter comment would have drawn less attention had Erickson not so stoutly opposed a council resolution that sought to honor President Obama. Erickson helped to bottle up that in committee by preparing more than 100 amendments to the resolution in an effort to shut down debate.

During discussion of the legislation, the resolution’s sponsor, Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, noted Erickson’s statements as an indicator of poor judgment.

“That’s a new low,” she said this week when she was first told what Erickson wrote. “I thought that he needed psychiatric help. I’m convinced he does need it now. That is reprehensible. I can’t believe it.”

Lucas is no stranger to controversial statements herself. Conservative radio show personality and Erickson ally Chris Krok was unsuccessful last month when filing an ethics complaint against the councilwoman for a profane e-mail she sent to a Bibb resident in December.

In Erickson’s case, as in her own, Lucas said she doesn’t think the city needs to take any official action to censure or reprimand him. It’s up to voters to decide what to make of his behavior, she said.

“Hopefully, they’ll remember his insensitivity and callousness next election,” she said.

And local Republicans are not particularly happy. Bibb County GOP Chairman Paul Rish called The Telegraph to make clear that Erickson does not speak for the rest of his party, and that the party does not condone what he said. Erickson is one of two Republican council members.

Rish said Souter may be one of the most disappointing Supreme Court appointments that a Republican president has made, but he still deserves respect as a sitting justice.

“We don’t agree with” Erickson’s statement, Rish said. “No matter how much you may dislike (Souter), in my opinion it’s slanderous and libelous.”

Erickson will continue as a guest columnist for The Telegraph, said George McCanless, the newspaper’s president and publisher. Erickson “has brought a different perspective to the discourse of local community issues,” he said.

“Obviously we don’t agree or condone what he said, but that being said, I look at it in the context of where (the statement) was said,” McCanless said. “Erick Erickson did not say that in the newspaper. ... He expressed to me that he was sorry that this had brought a bother to the newspaper.

“Erick is not an employee of this newspaper,” McCanless said. “He doesn’t represent the newspaper. He’s just a contributor to the opinions that we run on our opinion page.”

Erickson has drawn attention to his career as a blogger, Internet editor and professional political pundit by saying some rather outlandish things.

He appears occasionally on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. A Fox News spokesman declined to comment Tuesday on Erickson’s Souter statement.

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.