An unintended consequence of the ridiculously early start to the 2008 presidential campaign (which started the day after the 2006 campaign ended) has been the plethora of nasty articles claiming all manner of bad, unethical or illegal behavior being published regarding many, if not all, of the putative candidates. None have been spared and it has crossed my mind more than once that the candidates whose “stuff” is already out there (Rudy, Newt, and even Hillary – although I’m sure there are murky roiling depths still to be researched in her case) may have a strong advantage.
Perhaps in this version of the “silly season” it will be our good fortune to have only the truly strong candidates survive. However, I think it more likely that only the nastiest will survive, an outcome not remotely healthy for our Republic.
The name calling and denigrating language needs to stop. I myself have been guilty of it a number of times and since any change I espouse needs to start with me, I hereby foreswear the use of such terms as nutroots, moron, cretin or anything along those lines. And while I may occasionally feel an irresistible urge to describe someone's behavior as stupid, I will not characterize the actual person as stupid.
This does not mean that I will restrain myself from offering justified criticism when inimical behavior occurs. This morning I sent a rather forcefully (but politely) worded e-mail to the producers at “The View” chastising Joy Behar for her attitude wherein she seems to feel she can denigrate the President of the United States by calling him “murderer” or “liar” but she objects to being called a “fringe liberal”. Incidentally, since when is being called a “liberal” an insult? Regardless of Ms. Behar’s opinion, that is what she is. I wouldn’t even append the qualifier “fringe” – she’s a full-on liberal. If she considers being called a liberal somehow an insult, perhaps she ought to reexamine her views and moderate them so that her views may be described in a way more pleasing to her. But then intellectual honesty isn’t something frequently done by liberals, is it?
Finally, I think if we truly WANT civility and honesty in our public officials, maybe it is way past time we started demanding it. First, we need to practice it. Next, although I know it’s a lot to ask but any time your Senator or Congressman (Republican or Democrat) trespasses on the bounds of civility and/or fair dealing, it might not be a bad idea to call them on it. Make it clear that votes will not be forthcoming if such sterling qualities appear to be absent from the politician’s playbook. Do the same to your local newspapers and media outlets of all kinds. It may take a long time to get things back to where they need to be, but the effort really is worth it and this current trend started in the 60s and gained enormous traction in the 90s with the James Carville campaign machine, still in use by the Junior Senator from New York. (I cannot say anything NICE about her, so I don't often mention her by name.)