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.

8 thoughts on “On Clarifying the Line

  1. So do I point out that you should keep the barbarians “FROM the gate”? ‘Cause if they’re AT the gate, you don’t wanna keep them there, or they’ll come THROUGH the gate.
    Or do I point out that the root of the word “barbarian” simply means “outlander”, as in someone not ruled by the Roman Empire? If that’s the case, dang right I’m a barbarian, ’cause my majority ethnicity is northern Europe (Scandinavian, English, German)! No pansy pasta pushers need apply! 😉
    Naw, I’ll just be nice and say “Right on, Frank!” There’s a difference between spirited debate and personal insult, between supporting your party and fighting progress of ANY sort. I would hope that 2012, or 2016 at the latest, will bring a return to civility.
    I also hope somebody gives me an M-5 Stuart tank for my birthday. And they’re both just as likely! 😀

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    • John,
      First of all, thanks for the analogy and proof that you can use references that are not based in WW II and sci fi. 🙂 Great choice of words …. “There’s a difference between spirited debate and personal insult” … yep – that was my point. Yet, you are the first person I’ve ever known asking for a tank as a birthday present. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  2. our language is peppered with war terms and sports terms and all other kinds of terms, so the language itself really doesn’t bother me. it’s all about context. for example, when james hoffa made the remark, the context was clearly that he meant take them out by voting against them. however, there was some shady editing so it sounded like he was endorsing shooting people. it’s quite another thing when a member of congress calls the president a liar during the state of the union. it’s also a matter of timing and sensitivity. right after the horrific shooting in tucson, princess sarah kept pushing her don’t retreat, reload rhetoric. it’s also about tone. with a lot of the talking heads, especially on the radio, the hatred practically oozes.

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    • Nonnie,
      You have a knack for providing insight to ponder. Agree … context and tone are important. … and I’ll toss in timing. Gosh knows the radio talking heads of the talk show help push people away from civility. Nonetheless, I still expect more from elected officials. Then again, I don’t think I will see it. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Spinny,
      On more than one occasion I have asked if reality show mimics society or does society mimic reality shows. Which ever, they seem to feed each other … thus sadly spread to Washington. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

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