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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Liberal Hit Jobs and CT's Call for Civility

Liberal Hit Jobs

This is my first blog of the new year and given that it is an election year and that my own bias will incline me to see fault mainly on the Republican side, I want to point out a couple of really atrocious, uncivil comments by leading liberal politicians and commentators that need to be called out and condemned. In addition, I want to draw your attention to an important new article on the issue of civility and political discourse. I hope that even in the heat of the political debates over the next twelve months I will engage the critical issues with humility, sensitivity and humanity befitting my Christian faith. I hope I will be fair to my opponents even while I challenge and confront their arguments.


Peter Wehner rightly decries the grotesque attacks on Rick Santorum and his wife over how they dealt with the miscarriage of their child.

“We are seeing how ideology and partisan politics can so disfigure people’s minds and hearts that they become vicious in their assaults on those with whom they have political disagreements. I would hope no one I know would, in a thousand years, ridicule parents who were grappling with unfathomable human pain. Even if those parents were liberal. Even if they were running for president and first lady.”

Defending Tea Party

This article from Politico does a good job of evenhandedly explaining the controversy over Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s comments about the Tea Party. Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is being criticized for comments she made about Gabby Giffords’ shooting. I think a fair reading of her initial remarks clearly show that the Republicans had a right to be offended. After everything we now know about the crazed killer who shot Giffords it is unconscionable that Shultz would imply that the Tea Party had anything to do with his behavior. She just needs to not go there, plain and simple.

Christianity Today on civility

While the main focus of my writing has been to expose and challenge extremist rhetoric and actions on the Christian Right, I want to renew my commitment to civil discourse. The two examples above could be multiplied many times over--liberals can be uncivil and disrespectful too!! If I am honest, I have been that way at times. The new cover story at Christianity Today gives all people of good will a strong reminder about the importance and necessity of civility even in an election year! Given my hearty disagreement with Christianity Today's last issue, I am glad to commend the magazine for a great article by Amy Black. Her piece includes the following observation: 

"Successful public policy is almost always the result of compromise, yet much public rhetoric on hard issues ignores this reality. In the same way that divisive language can rally the troops on easy issues, politicians and party leaders often find they can capture voter attention with polarizing remarks that demean opponents' positions and question their motives.
For example, a recent Internet ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows an elderly man working as a stripper and a man with a walker mowing a teenager's lawn. In between these scenes, text displayed on black screens warns, "Seniors will have to find $12,000 for health care because Republicans voted to end Medicare. How will you pay?" Despite the ad's claims, senior citizens were not in danger of losing Medicare. House Republicans had voted to support a plan to restructure Medicare for adults under age 55 that would likely increase the costs for future beneficiaries, but the measure had no hope of passing the Senate. The ad used humor, distortion, and mistruths to score political points instead of highlighting legitimate concerns about the proposal.

Exaggerations, accusations, and distortions are common in both parties. A recent Republican National Committee fundraising appeal accused President Obama of trying to "buy another four years in the White House so he can continue shoving his radical left-wing policies on the American people that have added $4 trillion to the national debt, caused the loss of 2 million jobs, and led to America's first credit downgrade in history." Are President Obama's policies the sole contributor to our current economic woes? Of course not. But appeals like this often entice donors to grab their checkbooks."