In a previous post, I asked the question, “Has Hope Flatlined?” If the answer to that question was, “yes” upon writing my post (actually for me it wasn’t), then President Barack Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009 brought hope back alive. It was a great speech that did what it was intended to do: reframe the message on healthcare reform, explain the features of the president’s desired plan, unify the Democratic party, and for those on the left and middle, quell the rampant lies spread by the Republicans, the right, and the special interests. Now all that remains is the work in the proverbial trenches hammering out the details and getting the votes. I am confident that we will finally get some real reform. Hope is still alive and kicking!
However, I am very disheartened by the essence of the Republican strategy which is basically to look for every opportunity under the sun to criticize, demonize, and illegitimize (my own word) the president. The lack of civility is jarring as illustrated by the congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson, who shouted down the President during his speech. He later apologized under duress and orders from the GOP party leaders.
These Obama-haters, birthers, etc. remind me of the bullies we tell our kids about and the ways to negotiate with them. These are the bullies that are just accepted by the teachers and administrators. Most of us have at least one story about a bully. Everyone knows they are waiting around the corner to call you names, pull your hair, still your lunch money or your lunch, trip you, pick a fight, etc. Unfortunately, if you fight back you are the one who is reprimanded either because the teacher turned around just as you, in frustration, finally decided to hit back. In another scenario, the bully may lie on you and everyone corroborates the story out of fear. It seems like the Republicans, the fringe right, the Sarah Palins, Rush Limbaughs, are the bullies and everyone else are the regular folks. We are either targets of the bullies now or will be if we call them out.
I detect a conservative bias in the media as expounded on in Eric Alterman’s book, What Liberal Media: The Truth About Bias in the News. Most people think the mainstream media is liberal by nature. All throughout the campaign, the mantra of conservatives was that the liberal media loved Barack Obama and failed to take him to task. This claim remains into his presidency. This is not true. Networks are owned by an increasingly small pool of big corporate entities which are very conservative. If you watch a typical news broadcast, you will see a similar pattern. Outlandish charges will be leveled against the president: “The president is a martian and has a secret plot to allow his fellow martians to take over the earth.” On the nightly news you will hear, ” President called a Martian, we will examine if it is fact or fiction.” It is laughable. The reporting gives credence to the claims. I want to scream when I hear some pundit wax on and on that the president promised to bring postpartisanism to Washington, but now the country is more divided than ever since the election. That is like saying it is your fault the bully beat you up. There is an active, concerted effort to bring President Obama down and not just politically. There has been an uptick in hate groups and militias. These “great Americans” warn that it is time to “water the tree of liberty with the blood of martyrs and tyrants” translated to kill, lynch, obliterate this president. However, the rules are different for the non-bullies. They have to tip toe around the screamers and shouters lest they fan the flames of hate even more. For this reason, Joe Wilson will not be cited for his disruption during the speech even though it is the policy.
Jeff Schweitzer hits the nail on the head:
The double standard held by Republicans has gone too far.
This hyper-partisanship is destroying our ability to solve our most pressing problems. Republicans have become delusional in thinking that anything done by the GOP is righteous and all actions on the left are threats to our life and liberty. Reason has been thrown out the door, replaced with a blinded, single-minded and hateful view of the world. They openly wish for Obama to fail, which if in reverse they would decry as anti-American. They actively seek to derail health care reform of any kind, no matter the cost of inaction to the nation’s long-term prosperity. They have redefined hypocrisy by ignoring failures on the right and blatantly lying about the left, often accusing Democrats of the very abuses perpetrated by Republicans. Think of the response to Joe Wilson’s ridiculous behavior. Think of family values, Mark Sanford and John Ensign. Speaking of which, why hasn’t Joe Wilson cried out “You lie!” when Mark Sanford speaks? Fox News routinely called Bush protesters unpatriotic, but applauded the tea party protests against Obama. We must no longer abide this repulsive blind bias and hypocritical intolerance.
In order to fight these bullies, you have to be smarter than them. Like little Boland the dinosaur was with Tyrone in the children’s book, Tyrone: The Double Dirty Rotten Cheater. However, civility is always the best policy, at least that is what lesson we want for our children.