Getting Too Ugly Too Soon - Tony Blankley
In the past few weeks, the language of national political debate has turned too ugly too soon. The temperature is rising, and I have felt it in the rising of my own political blood.
I am not alone on both sides of the political divide. In the past fortnight, the most high-toned, rarely partisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Brahmins of Washington print commentary have used the following phrases to describe the president or his words: "double talker," "opportunistic," "brazen deception," a "great pretender," practicing "deception at the core" of his plans, and a "fantasy."
On the president's side, a high-toned prizewinner called the GOP arguments "fraudulent," saying they [the GOP] intend to push the U.S. economy over "the edge of catastrophe." A prominent opponent of the president's was identified as having a history of drug dependency.
The White House itself ran a campaign to demonize Rush Limbaugh. And according to Politico, President Obama's transition chief is coordinating a "left-wing conspiracy" that intends to go after the president's critics personally. Politico quotes one of the participants: "There's a coordination in terms of exposing the people who are trying to come out against reform -- they've all got backgrounds and histories and pasts, and it's not taking long to unearth that and to unleash that, because we're all working together."
The old joke that debates in academic lounges are so nasty because so little is at risk does not apply, in my opinion, to national politics right now. Rather, precisely because we stand on the edge of possible economic catastrophe in a world that seems more out of control than anytime since 1939, both sides feel more deeply about policy decisions soon to be made.
We earnestly believe -- on both sides -- that decisions made in Washington in the next several months or few years may drastically reshape the very nature of our country forever. So policy argument easily slips into personal calumny in a desperate effort to win the debate.
But precisely because these fateful policy decisions may well be decided by a few votes in the Senate -- leaving almost half the country appalled at the decision -- it is vital to dial back the rhetoric of the debate to make acceptance of such decisions more manageable. At least I am going to try to dial back my rhetoric.
Don't construe the foregoing as an ode to goo-goo bipartisanship. I stand with Maggie Thatcher in believing in conviction politics, in which individuals and parties do not compromise their first principles in order to get along. It is better to lose a vote or an election on principle and let the public judge whose policy was the wiser than to stand for nothing -- and thus stand for anything.
- jR, aka AirFarceOne (Twitter)
Created in a heat of politically motivated outrage, right here on Blogger.