Friday, January 14, 2011

Civility versus honesty

Over at Balloon Juice, Mistermix points out that "civility" isn't the problem with our political discourse. It's that one side of the discourse could care less about "honesty."

James Fallows has solicited suggestions on how we can have a more civil political dialog in the wake of the Tucson shootings. Fallows’ project has merit, and as a consistently civil and reasonable person, he’s the right guy to take it on. But if I had a choice between a more civil discourse and a more honest one, I’d pick honesty every time.

The reason that hundreds of angry people came to town hall meetings in my Congressional district in 2009, and the reason that police had to be present where they had never been before, wasn’t because someone was “uncivil”. It was because their media heroes and party leaders told them a pack of lies about death panels, federal funding for abortions, Medicare being taken away and free insurance for illegal immigrants. The questions that my Congressman took at those hate-filled meetings weren’t reasonable queries about limited government, deficits and healthcare outcomes. They were questions about why he wanted to kill grandma, let the government pay to abort babies, and take away Medicare.

Meanwhile, he notes that the media (or, as Sarah Palin puts it, "'the media'") is complicit in that it is more newsworthy to show angry mobs than to analyze what the mob is angry about and explain that it is all bullshit.

I think this is important. It is easy to lose the point President Obama was trying to make regarding "a more honest and civil" politics, and forget that the former is easily as important than the latter and much more easy to call attention to.

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