Monday, November 01, 2010

If No Compromise, No Equivalence

At his Rally to Restore Sanity Saturday, comedian/celebrity/political pundit/egomaniac Jon Stewart made an excellent point when he noted

Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives nor even primarily as Dems, Reps, libs, or cons. We leave that up to political officials, generally elected, and almost exclusively Republican or Democratic, most of them conservative or liberal. Stewart assesses these national politicians:

So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable--why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own?

We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don't is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

Here is a sampling of the GOP's approach to the President, according to Think Progress:

– Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) was forced to apologize for “calling President-elect Barack Obama a ‘Marxist’ and comparing him to Adolf Hitler.” [11/12/08]

– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) also compared Obama not only to Hitler, but also Hugo Chavez. [07/09/09]

– Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) questioned whether President Obama was an American, saying: “Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.” [02/23/09]

– Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) also questioned Obama’s citizenship, saying birthers “have a point” and that “I don’t discourage it.” [07/29/09]

– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she was “very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views.” [10/17/08]

– Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) called Obama “an enemy of humanity” for his pro-choice views. [09/26/09]

– Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) called Obama “a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda,” and said he was “a dedicated enemy of the Constitution.” [07/22/10]

– Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that the Obama administration was a “gangster government.” [11/12/09]

– Bachmann, too, accuses Obama of heading a “gangster government.” [06/10/09]

– As Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin famously said Obama is “palling around with terrorists.” [10/04/10]

– Palin also said the president was being advised by “thugs” from Chicago. [06/10/10]

And those are Republican politicians, the guys and gals who have to submit themselves to voters of all stripes and to their local, and sometimes the national, media. The comments do not include the more extreme and more common remarks of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Gallagher, and others of the right-wing and highly partisan blogosphere. Those are actual members of Congress. (The one exception is Tancredo, who as a third-party candidate, is running a strong second in the race for governor of Colorado, despite competition from the (more moderate) Republican, whose candidacy he has decimated.

In the last few weeeks, GOP congressional leaders Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Mike Pence all have said: no compromise. (Those were Pence's exact words: "no compromise." Meanwhile, President Obama, in an interview with radio talk show host Michael Smerconish:

Asked how he would govern for the next two years should control of the House shift, Obama said he expected that Republicans, should they "be in a position to hopefully take more responsibility working with us, are going to say to themselves that it's important for us to show some accomplishments over the next couple of years."

Unless Jon Stewart can show us Repub leaders whose public position is similar to that of Barack Obama, his perception of moral equivalency is simply false equivalency.

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