Bill Clinton hears echoes of the hate-speech of the 90s – the last time Republicans were marginalized (go figure).
“We can’t let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose focus of our common humanity.”
It’s hard to disagree with that sentiment but, the fact is, it makes a poor yardstick by which to measure political speech. Dissent is defensible, even patriotic, inasmuch as it is legitimate. For instance, the Bush Administration’s warmongering, public lies and real subversion of the Constitution deserved strong public reaction (many would say much stronger than it was in our post-9/11 state of shock and stupor). Naked personal hatred for Bush or Cheney wasn’t appropriate or helpful but it becomes hard to tease from righteous anger at their egregious conduct.
The real trouble with Republicans’ (and other “conservative”) political rhetoric isn’t that it’s hateful, it is that it’s lying slander. If you’re going to go all torch-and-pitchfork it needs to be for a valid reason, not because secret socialists Obama, Pelosi and Reid want government to take over the health care system so it can pull the plug on Granny. That makes you a partisan crank (to the degree you fail to inform yourself of the relevant facts) or an outright traitor (to the degree you know it’s a lie).
It is the media’s rejection of empirical truth (along with liberal opinion) that has gotten us to our present dysfunctional and possibly dangerous political state, not its acquiescence to hate speech. Post-modern journalism’s ubiquitous he-said, she-said convention has simply failed to provide a grounding in reality for the vast majority of Americans who haven’t the inclination, skills or time to do the hard work of researching what is true or false out of the competing claims they happen to hear. Add to that the fact that many Americans want to believe certain lies for psychological reasons and a strong public rejection of contrived falsehood becomes even more critical. The corporate press is stuck with the two dominant political parties, just like the rest of us but until it can come to terms with the fact that one of those political entities is dishonest in nearly every expression, and communicate that fact to the public, their lies will continue to make many vulnerable Americans lose focus of our common humanity.