Kathleen Parker offers up a "See, we're not all crazy" post-mortem on the President's speech to school children,
The only thing missing from this orgy of conservative orthodoxy was . . . a Republican president. And that is the lesson of the day.Her willingness to call out the crazies in her party, even naming Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer as a particularly egregious example, would impress me more if it had come before the speech, let alone if she were willing to extend her disassociation with the nutjob wing of her party to other issues.
As her response to the "death panels" lie indicates, Parker is more concerned with maintaining her party's credibility than she is with trying to maintain honest, responsible discourse. Her warning on that issue:
We do need to turn down the rhetorical heat lest we miss important issues in the proposed House health-care bill.Get this:
For purposes of civil discourse, let's assume that no one wants to kill off old people.She's not interested in calling out the lies of her party's leaders - she's not even willing to admit that they're lying, instead merely assuming for the sake of argument that the Democrats really aren't out to kill the elderly... to be civil. Similarly, with the craziness that occurred at "town hall meetings" on healthcare reform,
One may reasonably oppose, on the merits, the views that Frank and the Democrats hold on health care - and plenty of informed people do. But when Frank is tossed into the ring with a Hitler-wielding instigator, he looks the sage from Vesuvius, and his opponents escapees from the asylum.It's all about appearances. The craziness and lying isn't so bad as long as it doesn't put Republican Party's goals in jeopardy, so maybe it's best to... try to keep the nuttiest stuff off camera:
Given the choice of company, which would you prefer?
There isn't much we can do about the convergence of technology and the persistent plague of narcissism, but there is something we can do about Hitler. The moment he shows up in any form, turn off the cameras. Consider it an act of nonviolent protest - and self-respect.The problem, after all, isn't that Barney Frank didn't put a loon squarely in her place on camera. The problem is that he did exactly that, to the detriment of the Republican Party's "message". So by all means, shut off the camera.
Parker references Newt Gingrich and Laura Bush as a sane wing of her party, noting that (unlike her) they were willing to stand up for the President's address to school children before it occurred. I'll give Gingrich partial credit, as he waited until the last minute when it was obvious that the attacks on Obama were close to insane. I suspect that his goals are similar to Parker's - he wants to disassociate the Republican Party from its crazy faction. But like Parker he is unwilling to do that in a broader sense, and to try to advance mature, responsible debate on public policy issues.
Laura Bush gets more credit, as she didn't have to speak out and demonstrated a certain courage in choosing to insert herself into this debate. I don't want to read too much into a sound bite, so I'll assume that by arguing that it's "really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States" she's talking about the insanity directed at Obama (and, to a lesser degree, at her husband during his Presidency... and to an intermediate degree at Clinton) as opposed to disagreement on policy issues. The media and the political parties really should draw a line and call out the crazies, including those within their own ranks, on issues like "Clinton's a murderer," "Obama's a secret Muslim who's not even a citizen," or "Bush knew the 9/11 attacks were going to occur and let them happen anyway."
But Parker's essay reminds me of her editorial during the primary campaign (before the Rev. Wright blow-up) in which she spoke of how Obama's race made it more difficult to frame attacks on him despite his shortage of "blood equity". Parker's willing to caution her party in the hazards of dragging things too far into the mud, she's willing to distinguish her party from those within its "tent" when there's a chance of "guilt by association", but she seems perfectly content with dishonest, below-the-belt tactics that can't quite be associated with her party or don't jeopardize what's left of its credibility.
Parker's not the sort of referee you would hire if you're trying to stick to the Marquess of Queensbury rules. She's the type Vince McMahon would hire, to catch and chide "pro wrestlers" for minor transgressions but whose back is always conveniently turned when they're bludgeoning each other with folding chairs.