A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Politics means never having to say you're sorry.

Yesterday's post was written to be non-partisan. I hope I succeeded. Today, not so non-partisan.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik criticized vitriolic political rhetoric during a press conference about the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He in turn was criticized by Sen. Jon Kyl and vitriolic right wing bloggers for having the temerity to suggest that perhaps the tone of  political conversation might have contributed to the attack. Some have even called Sheriff Dupnik's comments an attack on the 1st Amendment.

Have you ever walked into a room full of children to find family heirloom in pieces on the floor and ask "What happened?" The 1st one that says "I didn't do it" is the culprit. Perhaps if the Sheriff's criticism didn't hit the target, the response wouldn't be as vociferous? More importantly, in Brandenberg v. Ohio the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found that speech likely to incite imminent lawless action is not protected by the 1st Amendment.  I believe an attempt to kill a U.S. Representative qualifies as imminent lawless action. Also, Sheriff Dupnik never suggested abridging anyone's 1st Amendment rights. He merely suggested exercising restraint in rhetoric,a nuance obviously lost to right wing hate mongers. Finally, Sheriff Dupnik did not ascribe the counterproductive caustic rhetoric to either (any) political philosophy. The offense taken by the right wing blogosphere proclaims "the lady doth protest too much, methink."

Instead I suggest the offended angry right go learn the lesson of Sue Lowden.  Ms. Lowden was the front runner for Nevada Republican nomination to challenge Harry Reid for Senate. Polls showed Lowden way ahead of Reid in a general election. (Un)fortunately Ms. Lowden, while attempting to criticize Pres. Obama's health care reform initiative, made a remark about bartering chickens for health care. When asked about her non-21st century approach to affordable health care, Lowden chose to reiterate rather than retract the statement. Both Harry Reid and Sharron Engle capitalized on this gaffe. Engle won the Republican nomination and Harry Reid won the Senate race. A simple "I chose my words poorly" and Sue Lowden would likely be Senator Lowden and the Republicans might control the Senate. That's the power of "I'm sorry."

The responsibility for the high volume discord pervasive in today's political climate does not rest solely with any party. Still if one (either) party is unwilling to consider they're portion of the mess jointly created, the mess can't be cleaned, not even for the memory of a nine year old girl.

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