Politico Gets it Exactly Backward in Calling for a More Civil Tone

In the aftermath of the Tucson massacre, Politico's Glenn Thrush and Carol E. Lee write one of the most inane responses imaginable:

Of all the unfulfilled campaign promises President Barack Obama made in 2008, the one that bothers the president most isn’t any squandered policy priority – it’s his failure to re-civilize what he views as an increasingly savage partisan climate.

His failure? The president who reached out to the Republicans on the stimulus, who allowed Republicans and centrist Democrats to define the health care debate and then received not a single Republican vote, who continually compromises even before negotiations have begun? It was Republicans who talked secession, who lied about death panels, who openly called him a liar while he was speaking the truth before Congress, and who ran for office talking Second Amendment remedies.

Yet Obama has often expressed anger - broadly in public, far more pointedly in private - against conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin for whipping up anger against him and other Democrats. And few people around Obama were upset at the barrage of criticism unleashed against Republicans on Sunday for standing by while conservatives like Palin used gun-related imagery to score political points against Giffords and others.

And Obama is supposed to sit idly by while right wing demagogues spew vile filth on a daily basis? He and the people around him were supposed to be upset that there was criticism because Palin's violent imagery came to be? Could Thrush and Lee possibly have it more backward? And then, of course, they circle the drain with discussion of Obama's ability to emote in public. Better for them that they learn to write intelligently and coherently in public.

Fairly or not to conservatives, the mass murder in Tucson has ignited a larger debate about the rhetoric in American political life and the implications of a discourse in which partisans – not all of them Republicans — routinely employ the vocabulary of hunting, warfare and slaughter to describe quotidian political conflict.

Once again the false equivalency. To give but one example, users of this blog receive exactly one warning before being banned for expressions of violence. Right wing radio and right wing blogs express violence openly, without apology.

As for bipartisanship, when have the Republicans ever demonstrated a willingness to compromise with this president? Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has openly stated that his goal is to limit Obama to one term. And Speaker John Boehner?

President Obama:

Look, here's my expectation -- and I'll take John Boehner at his word -- that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That's something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he's going to have responsibilities to govern. You can't just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.


U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that any move to increase the United States' $14.3 trillion debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts.

"The American people will not stand for such an increase unless it is accompanied by meaningful action by the President and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington," Boehner said in a prepared statement.

If Thrush and Lee had any integrity, they would identify the problem as it is. This president's efforts to work with Republicans have only succeeded in damaging his policies. Because Republicans only work with him when they get their way. And to suggest that criticism of extreme right wing rhetoric is the problem, and not the extreme rhetoric itself, is as dishonest a framing as it is possible to make.


Daily Kos / By Laurence Lewis

Posted at January 11, 2011, 7:12am

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