Last Friday, Sarah Palin once again decided to contribute her thoughts to the public realm.
This time, she called Nancy Pelosi a "dingbat" for celebrating the Supreme Court's decision. (As if Palin would not had celebrated had the decision gone the other way. Of course not! I'm sure she would have been reserved and politely declined to comment on the issue as is her wont.)
Now whether Nancy Pelosi actually is a dingbat is not what we're debating. Pelosi, like all of us, has had her "dingbat" moments, and there certainly have been times when I've wanted to call her a dingbat. The difference is I'm not a public political figure with a huge following discussing a nation-changing issue.
Is this really what politics in the U.S. has come to? Politicians calling each other "dingbats" on TV?
Now, I'm certainly slanted here. I do not like Sarah Palin. Not one bit. I think she's a demagogue of the worst sort. (Not that there's necessarily a good sort of demagogue, but she seems particularly proud of her incessant demagoguery.) As far as I can tell, she doesn't care whether what she says is true or helpful – only that it gets the reaction she is seeking. There's another profession in which its workers do much the same thing. It's called pro wrestling.
She exemplifies what has gone wrong with our political process more than any other public figure.
We're heading into what is sure to be a nasty presidential election. President Obama (or his people) will say things about Mitt Romney that are horribly untrue. Romney (or his people) will say things about Obama that are horribly untrue. The actual issues will be overwhelmed by untruths, misdirection and blatant lies.
Both sides are guilty. And yes, this has been going on for decades upon decades. But because in today's world we're all so connected, it seems worse now than ever. This deeper connection also is why we need to tone it down more than ever.
And the person – strangely enough – who could take a leading role in accomplishing this would be (drumroll, please) Sarah Palin.
Could you imagine a world where Palin did not simply latch onto a fun catchphrase – like, oh, I don't know, "death panels" – and actually constructed a reasoned argument against the Affordable Care Act? One where she didn't lambast her opponents by calling them dingbats, but instead worked with them to come up with a compromise plan that would both insure those who desperately need it while not putting too much of the weight on the back of small business? If Palin led this way, thousands upon thousands would follow.
What we need in the U.S. is more compromise and less name-calling. Palin could be a transformational figure in this goal if a light suddenly fell upon her and she changed her ways.
Do I think this actually will happen?
That – dear readers – would be rather dingbatty of me.
Filed under: Columns