Beyond the Possibility of Civil Debate?
By Phil Perkins
April 5, 2010
Since the passage and signing of the controversial (to be kind) healthcare bill, the word “vitriol” has taken on a new prominence. And the president himself has shown that vitriol can be expressed in many ways—in his case, with a heavy dose of condescension and demeaning of many of the people who elected him, not to mention demeaning yet again the office of the presidency itself.
Make no mistake—only a sycophantic media could make the left’s brazen, shameless justification of the healthcare bill and wild accusations of broad-based right-wing violence or threats of violence against them seem legitimate, and the legitimate criticism of conservatives seem vitriolic. And they’re doing their best to ride this train for as long as they can, so that the subject of how bad the healthcare bill is just sort of fades away. Can’t wait until this November to see how this has worked for them.
The focal point for the left’s latest demonizing campaign is the Tea Party movement. The misinformation applied to this movement over the last week or so at least matches what’s been done to them in the past year. Especially egregious was the attempt to tie a small, extremist, terroristic group in Michigan to the Tea Partiers and even conservatives in general. This group has absolutely nothing in common with freedom-loving Americans who make up the vast majority of the Tea Party movement. By advocating violence against law enforcement officers, this group has shown that it’s a fringe element and, with only nine members, it’s getting outsized publicity. They are useful idiots enabling the media machine to feed its immense appetite to make conservatism look bad.
And the president’s own scorning of the public’s genuine concerns is unprecedented for an Oval Office occupant. His ridiculous scoffing about not seeing asteroids coming to Earth or another such catastrophe after signing the bill showed a disdain for the masses who are simply worried about what may happen, not just now but in the coming months and years. And his taunting of opponents who call for repeal of the bill by sneeringly saying “Go for it” showed his utter contempt for his dissenters. To contrast this, can you imagine George W. Bush calling on his opponents on Iraq to “Go for it” when they threatened to de-fund the war? In fact, Bush the gentleman may have given us the last best chance, at least for a long time, for a president to attempt setting a tone at the top of civility. Obama talks a good game with his friends in the media—he told sycophant Harry Smith of CBS News that he wishes the rhetoric and “demonization” on both sides would tone down. However, he can’t expect that to happen when he’s leading the vitriolic brigade of the left himself.
The multiplication of lies—first the lies about the healthcare bill, and then the vitriolic lies about opponents of the bill—make the prospect of any meaningful civil discourse on this or any number of other important subjects a distant dream, at least for now. For the very act of civil debate requires one key ingredient that is almost always missing from the Democrat side—a willingness to look at the truth of the matter.