Monday, January 20, 2014

LaRose/Celeste civility crusade faces huge odds

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.


Anonymous said...

Maybe we should bring back caning. They could have a special "savages at the statehouse" channel on OGTV. That could have the secondary benefit of increasing voter participation. I'd like to see Faber (known as Darth Faber to some D's), and Shannon Jones go at it,

Grumpy Abe said...

Why not? Verbal mud wrestling has never been more popular in the political arena.

Anonymous said...

As you suggest, "uncivility" has always been around. We just watched HBO's John Adams' series from a couple years ago - lots of mean stuff said about Adams (by Jefferson and others) and about Jefferson.

The difference is that the Internet, Cable, etc. broadcasts the stuff right away and all over, it's easier for everybody to join in
Also, people in every era tend to think theirs is unique for various reasons- hard times, violence, etc.
When people my age talked about the 60s being rough I wondered about the Depression, Civil War - real hard times - and lots of uncivility about Lincoln, FDR, others.
Obama's race does make a difference and fuels the hatred fires
Keep up the good work!