Give Us Enough Rope
February 24, 2011 by Ben Crystal
Believe it or not, the partisan style of American politics is a blessing. Granted, we all have moments when we yearn for a more civilized discourse; or at least, one that doesn’t involve Lawrence O’Donnell trying to convince viewers that he’s earnest. (I thought he had a weird facial tic.) But even a casual glance at the madness which has spread across the parts of the world which most Americans can’t find with a map and a copy of Fodor’s should serve to remind you that you’re pretty damned lucky you don’t live in Jihadistan; or one of the growing roster of countries which shoot people with an affinity for jasmine (the Chinese are going to have to stop pirating DVD’s of Disney’s Aladdin).
In the wake of lunatic Jared Loughner’s attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), President Barack Obama issued a call for “civility.” Americans heeded that call for about the same length of time it took the Democrats to formulate “Sarah Palin did it” talking points for the corporate media. By the time Obama delivered his annual “it’s STILL Bush’s fault” address, the interaction between Left and Right was back from somewhat muted rumblings to full-throated cacophony.
Now Americans are witnessing the Democrat Party/Big Labor Operation Sour Milk (author’s note: The DNC is free to use that one, with proper citation) in the Cheesehead State. Union thugs, perhaps emboldened by their recent victories in rumbles with the patients at Shady Acres Senior Stop, are roaring in unison with everyone from the actual Communist Party to House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi to Obama himself.
There are the usual — and becoming somewhat clichéd — depictions of Governor Scott Walker as… well, I’m guessing Hitler; but possibly Charlie Chaplin. Either some of these protestors received their artistic instruction from one of those late-night television “drawing schools,” or the Service Employees International Union has a huge number of fans of the Little Tramp.
Last weekend, I posted a link on Facebook to a report in The Washington Post about the Wisconsin Democrats’ cowardly — and enormously unproductive — bail jump to a bar in Illinois. The attendant discussion started in the usual manner: Fun and friendly digs at Democrats, followed by comical and calm-headed retorts to Republicans.
And then all hell broke loose. Again.
Around 50 remarks into to the thread, two of my friends were planning to meet up and — as one put it: “Beat the sh*t” out of each other. I actually know both of these cats, and they’re both pretty good guys, even though one of them is a hardcore liberal, and therefore has his head politically crammed into his posterior. Their war of words — and almost more — got me thinking:
“In ‘Jihadistan,’ we’d all be shot.”
Then, I mused upon the fact that I have quite a few friends who have it completely wrong about politics. Some of these pals are rather open-mouthed about their liberalism. Some of them are even funny — on purpose; which in no way diminishes their wrongheadedness.
I have never wished to shoot, stab, garrote, or throat-punch any of them; although I freely admit that I’ve considered the old backhand upside the head on occasion. But they’re all like brothers and sisters to me and I would happily lay the proverbial smackdown on anyone who tried to step into them. I’d like to think they’d do the same on my behalf. (That’s a presumption. Some questions are better left unanswered, and all that.)
Among these “traveler” pals of mine:
- A lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer, at that. But he knows good scotch and good cigars. He does suck at golf, but you have to love him for getting out there. At least he’s not one of those pansies over on the tennis courts.
- A dyed-in-the-wool liberal who ran for office as a Democrat. He often talks about soccer as if it’s interesting. It isn’t — but he is. He does root for Notre Dame with the same eternal (and recently unrewarded optimism) with which I cheer on the Irish. He’s also about the coolest cat I have ever met, other than my own father. If I ever met someone who didn’t like him I wouldn’t want to meet that person twice.
- A newspaper editor. Here’s a guy who once managed to work his hatred of George W. Bush into an editorial about a local homicide. I think his writing is hackneyed and whiny. He thinks my writing is… well… he doesn’t think it’s good. Meanwhile, his views on “looking for the union label” are not too different from mine. He’s also an avid gun guy and would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with many of us if the “time” came. When the stuff hits the fan, I suspect shooting straight is going to be a much more valuable piece of talent than writing political tracts, on either side.
- An old school 60s retread-type who thinks all conservatives are GOP-Bots programmed by Roger Ailes. This guy actually once told me the United Nations is a WORTHWHILE organization. The UN is about as worthwhile as the Department of Education. UN-apologist though he might be, he has successfully hit a major league curveball, driven an actual race car over 200 mph and partied with some legendary rockstars and lived to tell some amazing stories about it.
- A gay couple. They’re not even AMERICANS. However, they’re worldly, erudite, and incredibly interesting. A visit to their dining room table means a BIG step up from mac ‘n’ cheese. I only see them once a year, but I look forward to it throughout the rest of the calendar’s pages.
Not one of these guys is stupid. Each of them is worthwhile, in their own way. I debate with them, make fun of them, mock them and occasionally fight with them. I do NOT draw pictures of them made up as Hitler, nor do I Photoshop crosshairs over their faces.
Look, people: I’m not asking for some new-agey nonsense. Go ahead and drop the rhetorical hammer on those whom you deem deserving of a nail or two. I know I will continue to do so until Mr. Livingston decides he could fill my column inches with old “Family Circus” reprints. But there’s no reason for us all to behave like SEIU thugs, teachers’ union layabouts, and Nancy Pelosi.
There’s a big difference between:
“Obama is a babbling, Alinsky-ite boob who is to the Presidency what the quarter pounder is to a kobe steak burger at Morton’s. He is grossly incompetent, elitist and appears to be almost pathologically mendacious.”
“Obama is a goose-stepping, modern-day Hitler.”
That’s a bad allegory, given how the goose-steppers in question would have taken a dim view of someone of Obama’s complexion in their ranks. Plus, Obama’s chicken-legged frame would look ludicrous in jodhpurs.
Fight on, my friends, my countrymen, my fellow Bob Livingstonians. But remember the sage advice attributed to Benjamin Franklin (who would doubtless be appalled by the goings-on of late):
“If we don’t hang together, we will surely hang separately.”