Friday, April 30, 2010

Political nastiness is not a recent invention

Pat Murphy's opinion column of March 31, "Master brewers in America's hate culture," seems to equate a few nuts claiming to be militia members with what he calls "tea party riffraff," or for that matter, anyone who has developed a distrust or disapproval of this president and his administration. Perhaps some people not necessarily feeling hatred just don't like the idea of an American president shipping the bust of Winston Churchill back to England but bowing down to the king of Saudi Arabia. Or calling Hugo Chavez, that dictatorial wart with vocal chords, "mi amigo." By now it should be apparent to all except a few Hollywood dreamers that the amigo is systematically crushing dissent and freedom in Venezuela just as the Castro brothers have done for a half century in Cuba. Some may still be waiting for the transparency in government and reaching across the aisle promised so often during the presidential campaign.

The take-back-our-country theme, frequently used by those whose political party is out of power, is nothing new. For example, James Carville and Paul Begala, two fairly liberal spokesmen, wrote a book in 2006 during the Bush presidency entitled "Take It Back." There was some pretty rough handling of that administration in those pages but I don't recall any charges of incivility coming from Mr. Murphy then. Nor was there any condemnation or cries of hatred forthcoming then about the bumper sticker that showed a noose and the words "Support Bush." We can imagine the response that sickening message would elicit today. That shows real hatred, and unfortunately it can and does come from all sides.

During the 2000 Republican Convention, while then Gov. Bush was delivering his speech, CBS talk show host Craig Kilborn showed the governor on the screen with the words "Snipers wanted." In 2006 Democratic candidate John Kerry, in conversation with TV's Bill Maher, talked about a trip to Vermont with his wife for her birthday. Maher said, "You could have taken her to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone." Kerry answered, "Or I could have taken her to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real birds with one stone." And Al Gore chimed in that the Bush administration was "unleashing squads of digital brown shirts." Seems there was not a lot of love brewing going on back then. No, in those days dissent was the highest form of patriotism.

I sometimes get a chuckle while reading Pat Murphy's onesided, over-the-top takes, but this one was so far over that I had to respond.

Joseph Clement


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