Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mud Slinging

I had lunch today with a (somewhat) conservative co-worker. He was complaining about how nasty politics has become. I opined that this has been largely the conservatives' doing. David Neiwert has a good post on the subject. I know that it's true: liberals do it too. But I do not think there can be any doubt that the conservative leadership (both the political leaders of the Republican party and the conservative punditry: Limbaugh, O'Reily, Hannity, Coulter....) has been responsible for essentially tossing aside the Marquis de Queensbury rules. Sure, both sides broke the rules--often. But it was the conservative leadership who decided that they were not even worth having anymore--except as one more club with which to bash liberals whenever they dare to start fighting by the new rules.

On this same subject, there was an episode of Ben Wattenburg's "Think Tank" which stuck out to me as a really excellent example of conservative bias in the media. He was discussing the subject of the loss of civility in politics, especially in Congress. He asked his guests what had caused this, and one of them suggested that it boiled down to the Democrats being unused to being in the minority. Wattenburg and his other guest looked a bit uncomfortable for a minute, and then they went on to talk about other things. No other reasons were considered. I tried to find a transcript of this episode recently. I know that I saw it in the fall of 2002: September, October or November. I found what I am pretty sure was the right show on their web site, but that particular passage was missing. I'm pretty sure that one guest was Norman Ornstein, congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who more recently has said that "[Republicans] have been gradually using, on a regular basis, techniques that violate all the norms of conduct and behavior. And they've gotten away with it." Weird, and more than a little suspicious.


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