Civility in politics. That's the laudable goal of two men who have engaged the subject with earnest hopes of ending the toxic trash talk by some politicians and their dobermans within hearing range.
State Sen. Frank LaRose, the Copley Twp. Republican , and Ted Celeste, a Democrat who once served in the Ohio legislature, recently delivered their ongoing bipartisan message to Akron Roundtable to lay out their vision of a gentler political class.
While commending them, I think the idea has as much chance of working in the real world as Rush Limbaugh confessing that he's a closet socialist.
Having worked the trenches of political combat for more years than I care to remember, I bring to the witness stand no evidence that political discourse is anywhere near the Sunday pulpit. I can also report that it's even worse in the back rooms and there's not a damn (Sorry!) thing anybody can do about it. The stakes are too high, the partisan grievances too aflame. And since a black man entered the White House, the notion that all men are created equal is too besieged to survive pervasive racism in the souls of some combatants who can't contain their primitive biases. I should add from all of that there are too few profiles in courage from wannabe achievers .
Has it ever been different? Not really. Should we remind ourselves that in May 1856 Sen. Charles Sumner, Massachusetts Republican who opposed slavery, was savagely caned on the Senate floor by Rep. Preston Brooks, a South Carolina Democrat.
A half-century earlier in 1804, Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel (wouldn't TV have loved that one today?) In Fiorello LaGuardia's day, it was not uncommon to see his enemies quoted in the press assailing him as a "little Wop". And much later, didn't Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican, erupt with a
"You lie!" as President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress?
Or how about Rep. Steve King's reference to Latino children with calves as big as cantaloupes swollen with smuggled drugs. Or Limbaugh calling a young woman a "Slut" because he knew he could. Damn right he did.
Even as the congressional denizens refer to each other as "the distinguished senator from...." they are already in gear to consign the colleague to hell.
You could fill a book. And fill another book with the incivility of politics that has become more than empty lore.
Now, up in Michigan, the Republican national committeeman, Dave Agema, a nasty human being to put it kindly, continues to stir up his GOP nest with repeated sliming of gays and Muslims, accusing gays of being "filthy" and the critics of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's anti-gay remarks "LBGT Gestapo speech police."
Michigan's GOP National Committeeman said that?
If LaRose/Celeste really want to dig into the problem with a living target, do you think they should invite Agema to lunch? A very long lunch.