Know Thine Enemy
What’s wrong with the media? Once again, some one has dodged my bullet and turned in an outstanding performance. Rachel Maddow, this is for you.
Last evening Rachel Maddow conducted an insightful interview of Barack Obama where she asked him probing questions that exposed a great deal about where he intends to go and what he wants to do once he gets there. It seems that Barack Obama, despite the sniping of the far right and pundits like Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan, is a lot more centrist in his thinking than those on the left or right may think. I believe we should take a page from our leader and heed his good advise. We cannot get along if we don’t talk to each other, no matter how heated that may become.
That brings me to the REAL inspiration for my blog today. Mrs. Jack and I had a very spirited discussion this morning about Michelle Bachmann, the outrageous Republican Representative from Minnesota. Seems Mrs. Jack ran across a blog yesterday requesting people to sign a petition to convince Congress to censure her for her remarks. Mrs. Jack was for it; I was against it. We wrangled quite a while on the issue before I could get across my point, so I decided I would try to explain it to others of you out there who might want to burn the witch at the stake. God knows she deserves it!
If things go the way it looks, in four long days we will elect a gifted Democrat to the Presidency of the United States, and gain control over both houses of Congress in a sweeping repudiation of the Republican view of America. But let us not get carried away. We are only two to four years from blowing it all over again if we aren’t careful about how we conduct ourselves. Do not forget that Karl Rove was waxing poetic about the demise of the Democratic Party and 40 years of Republican rule in the US just four short years ago. Why didn’t that happen? An incomplete laundry list would include Terri Schiavo, Hurricane Katrina and the recent economic meltdown, not to mention the growing displeasure with the Iraq War, which we were lied into. In short, the Republicans over-reached their “mandate” from the American people and started paying for it two years ago and are going to continue making payments this year. Let us not be too foolish and drunk with our success and fail to learn from their mistakes.
That brings us to the “lovely” Michelle Bachmann. Her vitriol was laid bare for the nation and the world to see by one appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Revved up by the rhetoric coming straight from the mouth of Sarah Palin and name calling by those at Palin’s rallies, Representative Bachmann was emboldened to join the lynch mob against Barack Obama and those evil Democrats. It was vile! It was unimaginable that a member of the Congress of the United States would say such a thing on a national news program. But she did, and I’m glad! Why am I glad? I would always rather know my enemy.
If we will take the broader view of this issue, we will see that Representative Bachmann and Governor Sarah Palin, and even John McCain by his tacit acceptance of their behavior, have done a great favor to this nation and the Democratic Party. For years the leadership of the Republican Party has been embracing this fringe element to help build a majority for their nationwide elections, but they have also been denying that they exist. It has been very frustrating for those of us who live among the radical right to watch their existence being swept under the rug by their leaders. But we on the left have, in many ways, brought this upon ourselves. How can I say that? Because it is true. We have been pushing this idea of “political correctness” that curtails such outbursts of truth from a very dangerous element in our society.
It’s never pleasant to be called a name by someone else. It hurts, and it is particularly difficult for children. But let’s all think back to the schoolyard playground where such things, even in the segregated schools of my youth, were commonplace. Like it or not, children can be cruel. It’s always been true and will continue to be true, I will wager. But at least when some one called me a name, I knew they weren’t my friend. If they had been prohibited from doing so, I might have put myself into a dangerous situation without even realizing it. Don’t forget the tragic case of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was lured to a remote location by a couple of guys he thought were interested in him in a friendly way, but instead perpetrated a hate crime upon him resulting in his cruel death. Was that the fault of “political correctness”? No, not really, but it could have been.
If we gag our opponents and require them to pay lip service to our ideals, just because we are in charge now, they will simply take their hate underground where it can grow beyond our ability to confront it before it becomes too strong to stop. Michelle Bachmann is a relatively unimportant member of the House of Representatives. Her powers are limited, to say the least – NOW! But what if she had been able to keep her hateful views concealed long enough to see a return of Republican domination of the House and secured for herself a powerful chairmanship like Senator Joe McCarthy did? Then she would REALLY be dangerous! The same applies to Sarah Palin. Due to her hateful words gleefully uttered on the campaign trail this year, it will be impossible for her to sneak up on anybody four or eight years from now. We are much better off knowing about these two women now when they haven’t grown their teeth, so to speak. Down here in these parts it is a terrible thing to walk up on a rattlesnake. But if you do, it is much better if it is a baby rattlesnake than if it’s full grown.
The thing about politicians is that they get better and better at deceit the longer they stay in the “business.” We’re better off to let them spout off when they are too inexperienced to know better. Believe me, when Sarah Palin comes back, and she will come back, she will be the model of moderation. Thank God, we have all this videotape of her being herself right now when she doesn’t know better. As for Ms. Bachmann – because that’s who she will most likely be at the end of this year – her political career is most probably over. She embarrassed herself and her party to the point that they won’t want her front and center again.
Always remember that free speech was put into our Constitution by our Founding Fathers for a very good reason. We don’t want to be like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney trying to limit free speech when it disagrees with us. We want to cherish it as a right for us to disagree publicly. And we also want to understand that it is a treasure trove of information about another whenever they open their stupid mouth. We learn a lot more about people by letting them speak their minds than by limiting it because we don’t like what they say. Even Katie Couric got this. If you do not believe it, watch how brilliantly she sat back and let Sarah Palin hang herself. I’ve never been a big fan of Ms. Couric, but she was magnificent.