All presidents have been maligned by their opposition. It started with Thomas Jefferson’s campaign against John Adams. It continued 25 years later in the John Quincy Adams/Andrew Jackson campaigns of the 1820s. Their last campaign was so ugly that Andrew Jackson blamed his wife’s death on Adams’ smears.
More recently, photographs of George W. Bush wearing a Hitler mustache was a pretty common occurrence. So are what we seeing now with Barack Obama’s detractors merely more of the same? Or is the tenor worse?
It seems to me Obama’s opponents take advantage of and continue to spread misinformation– on his birthplace for example– rather than cleaning up the record and arguing President Obama on his record.
I was not a fan of George W. Bush. But during his tenure in office a friend told me: "You don’t have to respect the man, but you do have to respect the office." She was right. Agree with him or not, the office– and the person in it– deserves respect.
Thursday’s Chicago Tribune published Dana Milbank’s column titled "Debasing the president" asked the question: Is it worse now? Has the public opposition gone too far in its disrespect of the president and therefore, the presidency? Dana Milbank's column may be found in its entirety here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/ct-oped-0621-obama-md-20120621,0,735723.story
Debasing the president
What does conservative pundit Tucker Carlson have to do with an outhouse in Montana?
More than you might think. Over the weekend, the Montana Republican Party proved wrong those of us who believe our political discourse has gone down the toilet. In fact, our political discourse has gone to a place where there isn't even plumbing.
Outside the Montana GOP convention in Missoula stood an outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library" and painted as though it had been shot full of holes, according to the local paper. Inside, a fake birth certificate for "Barack Hussein Obama" was stamped with an expletive referring to bovine droppings. A message in the structure gave fake phone numbers for Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi "For a Good Time."
The state party chairman, Will Deschamps, said the structure was not in "real good taste. We do have a president of the United States, and we have to honor that." But he also dismissed the matter as a "sideshow" and "not something I'm going to agonize over."
But the outhouse is not a sideshow. It is something we should all be agonizing over. There are always going to be nuts at both ends of the political spectrum who do and say ugly things. Usually, leaders denounce the vile elements among them and try to distance themselves.
Under the Obama presidency, however, conservative leaders are encouraging the vulgarity — if not joining in by heckling the president from the House floor. The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, recently shared a stage with Donald Trump only hours after the buffoon tycoon had again floated the disproved allegation that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among many such episodes before that, Romney failed to challenge a supporter who suggested to him that Obama "should be tried for treason."
Conservative leaders may believe it benefits them that one in six voters still thinks Obama is Muslim. But when conservatives sanction the debasement of Obama, they are debasing the presidency itself. A Gallup poll last year found that only 35 percent of Americans had confidence in the presidency. A Harris Poll last month found that only 22 percent of Americans have a high degree of confidence in the White House.
Milbank went on to discuss the most recent affront of the president, when one of Tucker Carlson's reporters, Neil Munro, interrupted the president midway through a Rose Garden statement to the press on immigration. Milbank called the interruption "outrageous and unprecedented" and provided it as another example of disrespecting the office of the president.
I agree. I know George W. Bush was a magnet for criticism from the left. And I will not be surprised when a reader comes up with examples of disrespect of a media member or another member of government toward President Bush. That does not make it right. And, it seems different now. Blantant disrespect of the president is not only tolerated, but commended. A Congressman should not call out "You Lie!!" to the President of the United States as he speaks to both houses of Congress. And then when he does, he certainly should not be celebrated and be able to use his breach of decorum in a fundraising campaign. Just like Tucker Carlson not only tolerated his reporter's breach of decorum, but celebrated the breach. Carlson said "he would like to give Munro a raise for not being a 'stenographer.'"
You don't have to heckle the President of the United States to prove you are not a stenographer. Take down what the president says and use it against him in your writing, rather than yelling at him like he's Charlie Sheen on his latest perp walk.
Many of the people who blame Obama for our country's woes really need to start looking in the mirror and setting a better example.
Our biggest problem is We Don't Treat Each Other With Respect.
When our actions not only teach our children that it's okay to yell at the President of the United States, but then show them such action is celebrated, we should not be amazed when 13 year olds take video of themselves berating a 67 year old grandmother and post it on You Tube.
It's our fault that happens.
Filed under: National Politics