On Clarifying the Line

I admittedly get caught up in the rhetoric coming from the mouths in Congress, so I keep reminding myself that some it is simply the political gamesmanship. I recall Senator Orin Hatch telling the story of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (and his close friend) coming to him after a rousing Senate floor speech and asking, “How did I do?”

Although the Tea Party folks, Jimmy Hoffa (on Labor Day), and other partisans spew their side through red-meat diatribes, I continue to maintain that elected officials should be above the fray. There is a fine line between playing politics and being obnoxious and unnecessary or even worse – disrespectful. It wasn’t long after President Obama took office that Republican Senator Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated (and repeated several times since) that he would do everything he could to limit President Obama to one-term. No, not gamesmanship. No, not disrespectful – but yes, obnoxious and unnecessary.

For examples of disrespectful we can look to elected officials as Rep Joe Walsh (R-IL) for calling President Obama an idiot; or to Rep Joe Wilson (R-SC) for his “you lie” outburst during the State of the Union; or to Rep Paul Broun (R-GA) calling President Obama a socialist. Yes, I called out Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA) for her go-to-hell comment, and I am sure anyone can find disrespectful comments made about President Bush by an elected Democrat.

Meanwhile, I did not have any problem with Vice President Biden’s comment at an organized labor event on Labor Day in Cincinnati when he said, “You (union members) are the only folks keeping the barbarians at the gate.”

Nor did I have issue with this response by local Rep Steve Chabot (R-OH), “The Vice President was here in Cincinnati Monday to address the AFL-CIO at their annual Labor Day Picnic. His contribution to civility was referring to Republicans as barbarians at the gate. Now I’m not sure if the Vice President was comparing us poor conservatives to Huns, Mongols, Visigoths, Vandals, or which specific barbarians, but I’m quite sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment.”

I continue to believe that elected leaders should be above the fray, thus disrespectful comments have no place at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. While disagreements and gaming are part of their culture and process, the infusion of reality-show-in-your-face mentality is not an example of patriotism, but simply one example of our lost national sensibility and vanishing sense of humanity. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Avenue will continue to do their thing while also wondering why people have so little confidence in the economy.