Eye of the Storm II

Now I have more blogging time, mostly because I really, really need to rest a bit before dinner and the evening program, which will include a speech by Sen. Harry Reid. So while I’ve got a few minutes I’d like to respond to some comments by Marc Schulman left on my post from this morning.

I, too, regret the right/left war. For what’s it’s worth, it may surprise you to learn that I blame the Republicans for starting it — the Clinton impeachment was partisanship carried to an extreme. Although it’s mostly left unsaid, it seems to me that the left wing of the Democrats and those even further to the left are partially motivated by payback.

I haven’t taken a survey, but I think the Clinton impeachment is water over the bridge for most of us now. First, we progressive netroots types are hugely ambivalent about the Clinton Administration. Righties seem to think we worship the ground the Big Dog walks on; this is far from the truth. Second, we have much bigger and more dangerous problems facing us now than to spin our wheels over the Clinton impeachment.

However, most of us are angry over the way the Right has smeared, slimed, demonized, marginalized, and misrepresented liberalism over the past 25 or so years. Well, I should clarify — this goes back more than 50 years, really, to the age of Joe McCarthy. And the Nixon/Agnew administration engaged in liberal baiting as well. But it was really in the 1980s, especially after Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine, that rightwing talk radio and media like Fox News began a coordinated campaign to brainwash America about the nature of liberalism, rendering the “L” word into a pejorative, as part of their campaign to take control of the federal government.

(That and the fact that many of us believe sincerely that the Republican Party — which in my childhood was associated with the centrist Dwight Eisenhower and “Republican” cloth coats — has been taken over by an extremist, hard right faction that Eisenhower would not have associated with. We progressives are closer to the center than the so-called “conservatives” who run the Republican Party, yet somehow we’ve become the extremist and the extremists are called the center.)

Righties just love to comb through leftie blogs and commentaries and pick out insults of conservatives, so that they can whine about how mean lefties are. But I sincerely believe that the Right has us beat in the hate department tenfold. And you can’t see it. You excuse the extremism and hatespeech on your side, but pounce on every squawk from our side as justification of your hatred of us.

That said, in any group of people there will be some with bad judgment and poor impulse control who will react to insult and abuse with retaliatory insult and abuse. I think such reaction is not just misguided, but plays into the Right’s hands; the Right baits and slimes lefties until somebody reacts in anger, and then the Right can point to the reaction as an example of how angry the Left is. We talked about this in a panel discussion today. To a person, the panel counseled not taking the bait.

I see the wisdom of turning the other cheek, as do most of us here. Several speakers today urged the attendees not to stoop to the level of the Right, now or ever. The Republicans have been practicing Scorched Earth politics for 25 years, and it hasn’t just hurt the Democrats, it has hurt America. We’re angry, yes, but I’ve heard no one here talk about retaliation. Instead, we want it to stop. We want a politics of unity, in which people across the political spectrum understand that just because we disagree on some points of political philosophy or policy doesn’t mean we all don’t want what’s best for America. And we want political leaders mature enough to understand that compromise isn’t surrender.

I was in my 20s when the Watergate scandal broke. I was never more proud of my country than I was when I watched the Senate and congressional hearings. People of both parties put aside partisan politics and just went after the truth. No excuses, so whiny “the Dems to it too” crap that is the Right’s usual response when they’re caught doing something unethical these days. The Republicans of that time put the United States and the Constitution ahead of their party. Few Republicans seem able to do that now.

On the other hand, many of us believe the Bush Administration, or some elements thereof, have engaged in criminal activity. We think it is vitally important to thoroughly investigate this. If we are wrong, then investigation should show us we are wrong. But if we are right, this must not be buried and forgiven the way, for example, Iran Contra was buried and forgiven. This is not about retaliation; it’s about the rule of law and the integrity of government. Future administrations of either party must be put on notice that they will be held accountable for crimes.

Whatever the reasons are for the verbal civil war, I can’t help but be concerned about the reality denial and vindictiveness expressed in many of the quotes in my most recent post and earlier ones on the same topic. Using Haditha as a rationale for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is an example.

Believe me, there’s nothing I’d like more than a meeting of the minds. If you, and others, would like to engage in a conversation to that end, count me in.

I will not engage in any such conversation until you are able to fully admit to the denial and vindictiveness of the Right. Even though I choose not to retaliate, I ain’t about to just lie down and let you kick me in the head and call it “discussion.” Especially not on my own blog.

As far as “Using Haditha as a rationale for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is an example” — I’m not passing judgment on something I haven’t read for myself. You might want to read my take on this — the enormous pressure placed on the troops in Iraq pretty much guarantees that some will snap, and some bad judgments will be made. This, I argue, is a big reason why a military invasion was the wrong tool to use to achieve the Administration’s goals in the Middle East. It shouldn’t have been done at all, in other words. (Please read my entire argument before you try to argue with me about this; if I see you making assumptions about what I think that is not what I wrote, you will be banned from this blog.)

6 thoughts on “Eye of the Storm II

  1. I wrote my own reply to Marc under “Eye of the Storm I”, and after it submitted, your excellent answer appeared. At the risk of being redundant, I’m pasting it in below:

    And I am also here because the very “reality denial” and vindictiveness you mention, has been a part of the right since the Clinton days and it hasn’t stopped.

    It goes back before Clinton. I’ll never forget how my stomach turned when I first heard Rush Limbaugh in the early 80s. I listened to him for about six months, at first thinking he was kind of funny in a twisted way, but then I understood what his game was. The physical discomfort I felt was the apprehension of a growing sickness of hate being sown across our land (or, “across the fruited plain” as he would put it). He was sowing hate then, which took root, and had its first big chance to organize and work out on the national stage during the Clinton era.

    He’s not the first demagogue that ever found an audience – I remember Joe Pyne growing up – but his effect in our time has been immense.

    Clinton was no saint, but he was a good president (who wouldn’t want to go back to the 90s instead of the Orwellian hell we’re now in), and the right, led on by demagogues like Limbaugh did everything they could to crucify him, over what was trivia.

    What I learned from this, and from many personal encounters with right wingers, is that they only care about winning, and winning at any cost. To a person, I discovered that these extremists could not see past the ends of their own noses. Ideas like “fairness” or “truth” or “principles” are way too big for people like these.

    There are conscientious, principled conservatives who are not like this, and these are folks you can have a conversation with. But sadly, they’re a dying breed and have been pushed aside by the rabid right. And it began at least as far back as Limbaugh.

    And I agree with Maha, that I’m not about to waste time with these extremists until they can own their own selfishness, vindictiveness and immaturity, and learn to treat all people, particularly me, with respect. After being pushed around by these ignorant bullies, dupes really, for the last 20-30 years, and seeing the damage they have wrought in our country and in our world, there’s no way I’m going to tolerate any more of their abuse.

  2. Wow. We are getting to be as lockstep as the thugs! sic. I am hearing this same theme everywhere but each blogger is putting it in their own unique terms. Most excellent! I do want to add another wrinkle to this though or rather to the low level campaign of hatred going on in America. My mother forwarded a petiton to me the other day and I was set to delete it.(I’ll paste part ofit at the end here) However all of the examinations of motives and means being performed everywhere got me to thinking. My mother has not much trouble being goaded to a bigoted, narrowminded view of things(way too common now) and I got to thinking of how all it takes is a fake petition like this one to keep a steady anger going and what a jewel of an idea for disemination. Like minded people, generrally forwarding it to other like minded people. Gotta be a way of turning this back on it’s creators. Any thoughts?

    Hi Guys,
    This is so important and I am begging you to please read, sign and forward-
    By not responding we are simply helping give away what we, as citizens, have worked so hard to achieve.
    Thank you,

    As stated below, the Senate voted this week to allow illegal aliens access to Social Security benefits.

    Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenship for eligibility to that social service.

    You can Agree or Delete. Instructions are below.

    PETITION FOR: President Bush , Gov. Schwarzenegger and Congressman Dana Rohrbacher

  3. I was in my 20s when the Watergate scandal broke. I was never more proud of my country than I was when I watched the Senate and congressional hearings.

    A big ditto here!

    Another thing that was of that generation with proved to be wisdom and dedicated to the overall benefit of America was the amnesty offered to the men who refused to participate in the Vietnam war. Many of us didn’t get the pound of flesh we felt was our entitlement, but America was allowed to heal from the wounds our goverment inflicted upon us as a nation.

  4. Exactly my thoughts! I often puzzle over the fact that some people, especially on the right, seem to worship presidents. Come to think of it, I don’t know any lefties that put Clinton on a pedastal like I see righties idolize Reagan. I think righties assume dems do the same. Righties are very liberal in giving out free passes to republicans. Hero worship is a serious impedient to critical assessment of office holders performances. Who was it that said, “Democrats don’t agree on anything, if they agreed on everything they would be republicans.”?

  5. Perhaps it would help Marc to know the Motto here at the Maha blog:

    ” I’m not your monkey!”

    I wish to address the strawman comment “Using Haditha as a rationale for an immediate withdrawl from Iraq is an example”

    With all due respect how many” rationales” have we heard to stay in Iraq since it was discovered we were LIED to about WMD?Haven’t we liberated enough Iraqis to death or turned enough corners to satisfy the blood lust on the right?

    Our troops take an oath we would all be well served to read and understand .It is not to defend people or presidents agendas.It is to defend the Constitution. I have yet to hear a rational “rationale” from the right how saddam was a threat to our constitution… all I seem to hear is someone saying,, “ok maybe it was all a lie, but it would be a mistake to stop now”Your party was wrong about WMD, wrong about being greeted with flowers and sweets, wrong about nation building,wrong about every dang corner turned, hey here is a concept maybe, just maybe your wrong again…the track record for anyone on the right to be questioning the “rationale” of others is almost laughable.

    You can’t do the damage the right has done to this country and expect anyone to be thrilled with you..That is like a dog who is proud he crapped on the rug..Do they want a pat on the head?..like the dixie chicks say…”I aint ready to make nice” with someone who doesn’t even seem sorry for the can of worms they unleashed on the world….for me the first step to recovery for any relationship with the righties would be admitting they created a monster and taking ACTION to put it on a short leash…talk is cheap clean up your damn mess!!!

    I am not interested in revenge on anyone for Clinton.. thats clintons problem…the problem I see is our servant(bush) wants to become our master,which would be fine is this wasn’t AMERICA
    those who enable him or make excuses for him I have ZERO common ground with.. those folks are going to destroy this country and I will have no part of it…

    Some in this country stood for nothing and therefore fell for anything and as a result our country, our world suffers…and now they want me to make nice?? Sure, lets all assume the position.What they are really saying is shut up and agree with the mess we have made,,,Go with it!PFFFFFFFTTT….as if.

  6. Donna touched on alot of things that I was thinking about in the last eye of the storm post. Righties do assume that we think the exact opposite of what they do and that’s why they say things like we think America is to blame for all the evil in the world. What they really mean is that America is perfect. We aren’t the opposite of that, we do not think America is evil, but we do not think America is perfect. All too often I feel like I am talking to children when I talk to conservatives, they do have a black and white view of the world. “If America isn’t perfect it must be evil.” If you want to know what liberals think it’s more like, we know what America can be and should be and we work towards that goal and we speak up when we see she is heading in the wrong direction.

    I bet all of us know an indulgent and bad parent in our lives. The kids are bullies who do all kinds of bad things and yet the parent instead of correcting the child and making things right blames everyone else, the school, the neighbor for calling the police, the police themselves, etc. This is the way conservatives are with America, she can do no wrong. They even want America to be like the bully stomping on everyone else in sight and feared and hated.

    A bully may get his way in the short run but there are always those who will fight back and even the weaker of his enemies will seek to undermine him when the opportunity arises. This is why liberals would prefer that America take the moral high ground, we would rather that America be beloved and know that we will be safer if we use diplomacy and are generous and merciful to those weaker and poorer around the world. Actually we will be safer if we are generous and merciful here at home too.

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