Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Name It and Defame It

"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate." President Barak Obama in his second inaugural speech.

It's good to hear the nation's occupant of the bully pulpit ask lawmakers to seek compromise rather than maintain the rigidity of ideology, to replace the congressional circus atmosphere with statesmanlike demeanor and to present arguments pro and con in a civilized manner sans tendencies to vilify the opposition.

That last request will most definitely go unheeded by the deliverer and a healthy throng of those to whom it was delivered. Neither Democrat nor Republican, conservative or liberal, ruler or commoner seems able to resist the temptation.

Tagging an opponent negatively is as much the mother's milk of politics as the money handed out like Halloween candy on Capitol Hill. Name calling is as old as politics itself, and while we Americans do not have a monopoly on the practice, we've taken it to an art form. Sometimes unimaginative, always designed to propagandize and insult, these verbal witlesscisms fly from the mouths of politicos and their surroundlings like bats pouring from caves at dusk.

One has only to recall the most recent presidential campaign for examples of how unpresidential both Obama and Mitt Romney became as the process slogged along the muddy campaign trail. Perhaps the most striking plea for a return to civil discussion of the issues came from uber liberal Rachel Maddow when she admonished both sides for their attacks.

The prattle from Obama and Romney reached almost fever pitch, but it may have been a Model T in the Indianapolis 500 compared to some historical negatives tossed into the political arena. In 1952, Harry Truman called Republicans "a bunch of snolly-gusters." Not sure what that Missouri-ism means, but it can't be flattering.

Even our nation's father was not immune from some imaginative labels. According to Charles Lee, a British soldier who served as a general in the Continental Army during the War for American Independence, George Washington was a "dark, designing, sordid, ambitious, vain, proud, arrogant and vindictive knave." But he could also take a lickin' and keep on tickin'...just ask that knave Cornwallis.

Your humble observer can understand the propensity for those who have no argument, and little mental capacity, to resort to dropping unattractive names on those with whom they disagree. But to understand it doesn't mean I like it. To promote a position or advance an argument through vindictive verbiage aimed at those with different views is just plain classless.

When Piers Morgan called Larry Pratt "an unbelievably stupid man" because they disagree on gun control Morgan's own unbelievable stupidity and incomprehensible intolerance were revealed to his handful of viewers. For "actor/comedian" Jay Mohr to call Christians morons borders on the moronic, and when Bill Maher announced that religion is a neurological disorder, he proved that even an oversized head can house an undersized brain.

With the myriad of problems facing our country, the need is for representatives who believe in the greatness of America and its people, not in the infallibility of political party and ideology. We need individuals who share the concerns of all the people, not those who are concerned only with remaining in power.

Most importantly, we need elected officials (hired hands) who are not interested in placing blame, but in accepting responsibility for the actions of government. It also wouldn't hurt if we had officials who know the identity of their real employer.

The name calling most likely will never stop, though the Good Lord knows we've had a proverbial gut full. To stop it would require that a person respect others as much as that person respects him/herself. Unfortunately, respect apparently is considered a weakness in D.C. It has been replaced by egotism from which few are immune.

If we could sell our Congress for what many members believe they're worth, we'd settle our national debt and the debts of every civilized country on Earth.

Pat Culverhouse is a journalist and political columnist who lives in Minden. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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