Sometimes, I like to jump into shark-infested waters and play around with sharks. Such has been the case with this blog post that I threw some chum into. Note the fundamental disconnect between my comment and the responses that I got. My comment was scrupulously non-partisan, but immediately drew a hailstorm of “Obamabot!” reactions. Here is a brief recap of the rhetoric regarding Obama and his actions:

“slimy Marxist” — ” attempting everything to destroy this nation and its Constitution” — “idiot” — “usurper” — “unrelenting marxist shit heel like the PUS” — “slanderer in chief” — “his anti-American party” — “the socialist wing of the SCOTUS plus” — “the current joke AG Eric Holder” — “his racialist, pro-invasion anti-American bilge” — “his purple shirted thugs in SEIU” — “the ruling junta” — “a COMMUNIST with every intention of destroying this nations free market economy” — “replace the traitors” — “that illegal alien shitpuddle in DC” — “The only ones perpetrating a coup is the regime versus the American people” — “despot” — “like Chavez in Venezuela” — “curtail God given rights” — “obvious domestic enemies as they consistently trash this country, our military, and our constitution” — “if there were a civil revolution against this administration – I’m also sure they would not fire upon the citizens” — “the enemy of social stability” — “ignores the rule of law” — “agent of social disintegration” — “tin pot tyrant” — “a paranoid, narcissistic sociopath” — “he has to use subterfuge and political thuggery” — “tearing down the current society” — “socialist shitholes” — “stated aim is to destroy [the Constitution]” — “an outspoken enemy of this nation” — “overtly racialist invective” — “contempt for the citizens of Arizona” — “MFCSPOSCiC”; I can only infer from the first two letters that this no compliment — “handsome young mulatto” — “Odumbo” — “The bowing and scraping of this puke to our enemies” — “Odipshit”.

I have worked hard to cling to my principles of objectivity, civil discourse, and recognition that no one paradigm of governance fits all our nation’s needs all the time. Besides being wildly inventive, The Center Square is my well chosen moniker. I would gladly rebuke left-wing rhetoric that falls to such a level of invective as all this, but to tell the truth, it isn’t to be found. Yeah, there are some shouts of “Racist!” flung in Rand Paul’s direction and the like. There were some calls that Bush was a traitor for his abuse of military power in the day, and I did speak against those excesses. But only Obama has been subjected to this extreme degree of virulent, racist, paranoid rhetoric.

This feels like a contagion that has spread from the most far-flung radical fringe, to the next ring, or the next couple of rings of society. There does come a point where this sort of attitude destabilizes our constitutional government. I hate thinking this, much less bringing it up, but four of our own presidents have been assassinated, one of those in my lifetime. Reagan was nearly killed. This profession has a higher fatality rate than coal miners, offshore oil rig workers, or soldiers in modern combat. Elsewhere, Indira Ghandi was killed in 1984 — by her own bodyguards, no less — and at least 15 nations worldwide now live under repressive regimes brought in through coups d’etat. History says the worst is possible.

I don’t where the tipping point is. I can’t tell if we are standing safely back from the edge of the precipice, able to enjoy the luxury of listening bemusedly to the rantings of a few fringe fanatics. Or if we are dangling over the edge already, scrambing for a foothold and way back to safe ground. I know it takes only one Booth or Czolgosz, only one Oswald or Hinckley, to buy into this screed and decide to take matters into his own hands.

And you know what? Even dismissing the worst case scenario, I will say this. If this is the new face of the right side of American politics, then all hope for a moderate, centrist governed future is lost for the time being. You can’t talk to people like this. There is no room for information, history, fact, analysis or reason. If these represent the political opposition, of course liberals should utterly disregard them and enact their own agenda without regard for compromise or restraint. That, my very few readers know, is a path I deem very unwise. We need to blend a liberal willingness to use the levers of government to meet our national challenges with a conservative focus on fiscal restraint to be successful in the long run.

But how? How do you work with people such as these???


Let me start with a clear statement of the premise of this post: the political behavior of both politicians and we the people has become downright abysmal, and it threatens our future.

Start with the politicians. We have members of Congress who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that President Obama is constitutionally qualified to be president. Literally cannot get the words to come out of their mouths. Others who cannot bring themselves to rebuke Rep. Wilson for his unambiguous violation of the House code of conduct. Still others who cannot bring themselves to rebuke Rep. Grayson for his characterization of Republican healthcare plans as, “don’t get sick” – and if you do, “die quickly.” We have Sarah Palin out there fanning the “death panels” flames. We have Rep. Franks declaring that our president is “an enemy of humanity” who has “no place in any station of government.”

Why is this? This is done because it sells tickets, i.e., it generates political support and votes. It’s good for business among the political set. Does anyone of serious mind actually doubt the president’s constitutional qualifications?  Or that that Wilson, Grayson, Palin or Frank were out of line? Have you ever heard anyone express support for these politicians’ actions who isn’t also ideologically aligned with them? You have not. Ideological blinders are an absolute prerequisite to seeing these any of these actions as justified, or intellectually honest, or in any way creditable.

And, that’s where we the people come in. We buy this stuff. We soak it up. We love it. If you are an obscure South Carolina or Florida congressman or a small state governor or whoever, this stuff works. It works politically. You get more donations. You get bigger tiny crowds at your appearances. You get more votes. In the end, you get re-elected.

Where does all of this lead us? To the state of affairs in Congress today. Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, is among the most disdained and reviled institutions in the land. Various polls show an overall approval rating of Congress in the mid twenties percent range. If you or I set out with boundless determination to ruin our reputations, it would take a miracle to earn the disgust of so many.

We are caught in an ever-worsening feedback loop. Politicians on the right disconnect further and further from reality, become more and more willing to abandon all reasonable standards of discourse — and are rewarded with money and votes from an increasingly marginalized right wing electorate. And in turn: Politicians on the left disconnect further and further from reality, become more and more willing to abandon all reasonable standards of discourse — and are rewarded with money and votes from the left wing electorate. (I omit “increasingly marginalized” for the left wing only because it is in the ascendancy now; five years ago, it would have been reversed, and it will reverse again.)

Here is why this matters. There are real issues to be confronted by our government. We live in times which require thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise leadership. But we punish those who are thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise. We are left with a big bunch of losers, play-acting at being “Congressmen” and “Congresswomen.” I cringe to think that this generation in Congress will be the ones to decide how to handle healthcare policy, or energy policy, or environmental policy, or economic policy, or fiscal policy, or any other important policy. Frankly, I would cringe equally whether it was Pelosi or Boehner with a 256 – 177 majority and the task of crafting the thoughtful, forward-thinking, fresh, creative and wise legislation these issues demand.

Just remember, though: it is not their fault. We voted for them. We sought out and got exactly the kind of rhetoric-filled, ideologically blinded Congress we wanted. Good luck with that, America.