Incendiary climate fueled by both parties and the media

Clearly, a poisonous atmosphere in American politics has surfaced in the wake of last Sunday’s passage of the health care legislation.  Regardless of what has sparked the threats and actual acts of violence that unfortunately have manifested themselves in recent days — and there is plenty of blame to go around – the leaders and members of both major parties have an obligation to take steps to rein in their supporters.  And this means going beyond simply issuing statements condemning violent acts and threats.  The leaders of both the GOP and the Democratic Party need to actually meet with constituents and interest groups — including leaders and organizers of the Tea Party movement — and tell them in no uncertain terms to back down and cool off.

It is probably too much to hope that party leaders would stop bracketing their remarks condemning violence with clever political phraseology implying the other party is somehow responsible; but it sure would be nice if they did.   

One thing that is not too much to ask, however, is for both major parties to stop the unseemly spectacle of permitting their fundraisers to use the current climate of combativeness for political and fundraising gain.  Such tactics continue to coarsen the debate even if they do not directly fuel the current climate of hate. 

The media, unfortunately, is not just sitting on the sidelines objectively reporting about the goings on.  Individual members of the House appear almost eager to use the media to headline every untoward action or problematic phone message; and many in the media are  more than eager to comply — with blaring headlines, repetitive “specials,” and endless interviews.  Rather than standing aside and permitting law enforcement to investigate incidents of violence or threats thereof, in order to determine who is responsible and whether there actually are links to political groups, politicians and many in the media are jumping to conclusions and running with their assumptions in order to garner headlines and score political points.

In times past, including a little more than a decade ago when tempers ran high during the impeachment proceedings and when I and others involved in that process on the Republican side had to deal with threats and unseemly actions against us and our offices, there was no media hooplah and no parade of news conferences detailing every unsavory incident.  Incidents that needed to be investigated by law enforcement were turned over to law enforcement to handle appropriately; we preferred simply to “deal with it” rather than make political points from it.

The health care vote certainly will figure prominently in the strategies employed by both major parties in this fall’s elections; and which side will reap the greatest gains from their efforts remains to be seen.  But stoking anger and violence is something all interested parties — including the media — have an affirmative rsponsibility to foreswear and work to avoid.  Flames once fanned have a nasty habit of flaring up where and when you don’t want them to.

66 comments Add your comment

jt

March 26th, 2010
6:25 am

Enter your comments here

jt

March 26th, 2010
6:31 am

When all three entities (The Democrat Party, the Republican Party, and the Mainstream Media) have lost all credibility, and these same entities are suffering from this credibility,

it makes perfect sense (from their point of view),

to blame the people. And in a way, we ARE to blame. Any incumbant elected in November will prove this.

Road Scholar

March 26th, 2010
6:33 am

Better yet Bob, why don’t the Repubs and Demos actually talk to each other, find common ground and move forward to solve the rest on each issue?This does not seem to be “permited” by the Repub leadership as they muzzle any repub naysayer.

This is shown by recent Repubs saying that there are items in the healthcare bill that are good. They were immediatedly hushed, or fired, for discussing it. Free speech huh? The party of ideas? How can you have an idea when you don’t have a clue!?

Joel Edge

March 26th, 2010
6:33 am

I don’t believe the American public will sit still for this kind of government takeover. This could been avoided by simply listening to the public. I’m sorry, pleas of civility don’t wash with me right now. Courtesy and civility are a two way street.

Chris Broe

March 26th, 2010
7:35 am

There is a socio-political crisis of violence and hate in the US! Once this cat is out of the bag, and the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, or close Pandora’s box, or keep them on the farm once they’ve worn their guns to Starbucks – or worn a condom to Dick’s Sporting Goods (same logic) – the pea-tardies in the Tea Party will do all those things and more!!!

The hillbillys are driving more aggressive. Notice? The pickups go careening around corners; tailgating and then speeding past. The rednecks are seeing pink donkeys and it’s not just because they’re hung over, or have bats in their belfry. No. It’s the paranoia of the misinformed. The baseless myths spread by fear and ignorance. (and maybe a few bats).

The only thing that can save us is the markets. The cycle. We’re due for growth, dammit! Jobs! Then all this pent-up vengence will become just so much water cooler blah blah.

Keep up the good fight!

March 26th, 2010
7:55 am

Edge….cant anyone have a discussion about the inappropriateness of violents and threats without more talking points that have been addressed time and time again as being distortions/misleading/inaccurate and in some cases, completely false? No matter who you want to blame for a lack of courtesy or civility (and the blame game can go in circles and circles and does not stop/start with Mr. Barr’s example), there is no ability to accept in a democracy that if something does not go in your way, you may use intimidation, threats of violence or actual violence. That cannot be accepted as standard practice. It is time that all Americans stand up and say enough already.

Whether you like the law or not, our representatives passed a lawful bill and it is the law of the land. The balance of power of government gives those who do not like it 2 options: take it to court to challenge the legality or change it in the legislature.

Intimidation is not to be tolerated or accepted no matter who does it or under what guise. It is not acceptable for any politician to say…..”I dont condone this, BUT [fill in your non-"justification" of choice].”

Scout

March 26th, 2010
8:13 am

Good grief, I guess old Patrick Henry would have been accused of “flaming the fire”?

Byron Mathison Kerr

March 26th, 2010
8:27 am

Bob, perhaps you need reminding that it was Republican House representatives who yelled “You lie!” to the President in an address to Congress and “Baby killer!” to a designated speaker of the House. And then there are the confusing messages being sent out by Republican representatives both denouncing but also understanding the threats of violence against health care reform proponents.

Still, I think these are reactions to rhetoric that was ratcheted-up to the extreme by ultra right-wing wackadoodle media hacks. See David Frum’s article from Sunday entitled Waterloo. And Frum is not the only conservative commentator to express frustration at the Republicans for allowing market share media hacks to be their leaders.

Also, Bob, during the time you and your buddies were involved in impeaching President Clinton for lying about his zipper problems, an act of pure politicking by the way, we did not have quite the nightmare of the 24/7 news network and blogosphere echo chamber competition going on that we have now.

StJ

March 26th, 2010
8:50 am

I see the situation hasn’t improved.

More “my side is right and your side needs to shut up/bow down” posts from the usual suspects.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 26th, 2010
8:51 am

I respectfully disagree with the thesis. It would be irresponsible for republican leadership, and those few elements outside the leftist media, to fail to fan the flames. The republicans did not seek this battle – the war was launched by the leftist overlords, those who wish to control our lives. To suggest that resistance is futile, or that we ought to simply “try to enjoy it” is a gross dereliction of principle. Only the unprincipled among us have no sense of duty now.

GDRLA

March 26th, 2010
9:16 am

Gee Bob, how about 12 or so years back when YOU were fanning the base against the Clinton’s? Seems as if nothing has changed except that now you are trying to take the high road and perhaps reform your legacy?

I do however agree with the basic premise – that ALL parties should step back and then try to come to compromises and other acts that would benefit the American People (& not the corporate special interests – especially in the wake of JR’s court decision last fall). That is where Bill Clinton’s strength lay, even though he was a moral sleezebag.

Señor DuMass

March 26th, 2010
9:39 am

Nothing is going to stop it, Bob. I mean look at the first few posts. GOP “has no ideas”, ’stifling free speech”, blah, blah, blah. Then came the same ole’ “government takeover” garbage. It’s apparent, for vast majority, their concerns only go as far as the talking points handed to them by their respective parties.

Th

March 26th, 2010
9:40 am

Obviously, there are quite a few people who are convinced that Democrats can never legitimately win an election or vote to pass the legislation they campaigned to pass if elected. We have seen this movie before with assassinated abortion providers and bombed clinics and gay bars and the destruction of a federal building with many innocent Americans killed. A radio talk host advised that the federal storm troopers coming to your house would be wearing bullet-proof vests so be sure to go for a head shot. We don’t need a replay.

The Democratic and Republican leaders need to have joint press conferences to show a united front against any and all violence. Americans settle our differences at the ballot box. No excuses, no weasel words.

There is nothing wrong with the two parties not agreeing with each other. They aren’t supposed to or then we wouldn’t need two parties. That means the party that wins gets to enact their legislation.

The whole idea that the Democrats are crazed leftists and the Republicans are wacked out rightists is absurd. Bob Barr can certainly testify that to pass a bill in congress means you have to satisfy half the members to vote for it. That means the bill has to be acceptable to moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans or it won’t pass. That is why billions of dollars for state and local governments that could have greatly helped Georgia’s budget was stripped from the stimulus bill, to get 3 Republicans and 4 Democrats to vote for it who thought the original bill was too expensive. That is why the health care bill that just passed was not a single payer system like Canada but the Republican alternative to Clinton’s ‘93 proposal, co-sponsored by Hatch and Grassley among others.

Señor DuMass

March 26th, 2010
9:45 am

Grow the hell up.. The adolescent arguments of “well, the GOP did it” or “Clinton did it” only shows you have no idea of what you’re talking about. Until you ignorant pary sheep realize and admit that BOTH parties are complicite in our current predicament nothing is going to change.

Morrus

March 26th, 2010
10:12 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

DirtyDawg

March 26th, 2010
10:13 am

Reading one of the posts above, I was taken back to the ‘good old days’ of, say, 1968…and ‘Flower Power’…so I say we should all resort to ‘Violets and Treats’ as the obvious response.

Recovered Demoholic

March 26th, 2010
10:20 am

I’m assuming this is mostly about the ‘Hoyer, Lewis, Pelosi, et al. hand-holding, perp-walk.’ Did you see the video at eleven? No! Because, there was none. If there were, we would have seen it, since there were so many active cameras at the event.

Baseless race hustling and fear mongering.

mrs.w

March 26th, 2010
10:21 am

Senor DuMass:Until you ignorant pary sheep realize and admit that BOTH parties are complicite in our current predicament nothing is going to change….

Seems like your post is one of the few smart, sensible ones here. We all point fingers (myself included and at least I’m honest about it) but we don’t or is it that we can’t do anything about it? Why is it so hard for us to work together to improve OUR situation? It’s so disheartening at times, it makes you just want to give up.

DITTOhead: AJC Truth Detector

March 26th, 2010
10:31 am

BOB……..AMERICANS ARE JUST SUPPOSE TO LAY DOWN & SHUT UP……when their freedoms are threattned…..THE COLONISTS DIDN’T JUST TAKE WHATEVER CRAP THE KING DISHED OUT…..WE STARTED A REVOLUTION WITH RIFLES.

DITTOhead: AJC Truth Detector

March 26th, 2010
10:31 am

BOB……..AMERICANS ARE JUST SUPPOSE TO LAY DOWN & SHUT UP……when their freedoms are threattned…..THE COLONISTS DIDN’T JUST TAKE WHATEVER CRAP THE KING DISHED OUT…..WE STARTED A REVOLUTION WITH RIFLES.

joe matarotz

March 26th, 2010
10:35 am

Vote out the incumbents.

Whacks Eloquent

March 26th, 2010
10:41 am

Bob,

What is your take on Cuba? As a Libertarian? I often wonder personally if it would be best to normalize with them – it truly may be the best way to encourage change. We have China, who has similar human rights violations, and to them we give most favored trade status…

Ward

March 26th, 2010
10:59 am

I strongly suspect this is just the latest ‘crisis’ foisted on us by the media in a climate ripe for it. (See swine flu, runaway Toyotas, poisoned Chinese goods, Tiger Woods’ infidelities, blahblahblah.) Yes, I’ll admit this seems crazier than usual, but each successive crisis will have to top the previous one to make headlines from now on.

Turn off your TV, turn off Facebook and Twitter. Savor the silence.

Fix-It

March 26th, 2010
11:05 am

I like most Americans do believe that reform is needed, but reforms not take over. But why if our government did the right thing we could afford healthcare for all. Our congress and senate for too long get together to do one thing, spend our money. We need a change in their thinking on both sides of the isle. They need to get together to figure out how to cut spending and stop funding programs that don’t work. If we did this, paid back our debt and not allow for deficit spending then out dollar would be strong and out economy would follow.

Scout

March 26th, 2010
11:05 am

I’m sorry Bob, but this country is in such danger that it’s time to GET IN SOMEONE’S FACE!

joan

March 26th, 2010
11:09 am

The country is inflamed right now. We are looking at a huge recession and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. This has the effect of making people worried and angry. They see their corporations squeezed, jobs going offshore, corporations moving offshore to avoid the horrific corporate taxes here, hard working achievers being denigrated as being “lucky ones” who “ought” to pay. The incentives are going out of entrepreneurship. This just isn’t feeling like America anymore, and that is scaring a lot of people. Scared people react violently. I long for America as I knew it, when I thought I could trust my representatives (whether they deserved that or not). No more.

Marcos

March 26th, 2010
11:14 am

You right wing freaks crack me up. YOU LOST THE ELECTION! That is what happens in this great country. You want things your way? THEN WIN AN ELECTION! And quit crying like a bunch of brats. Grow the hell up and act like adults. Until then you can count on continuing to lose.

Robert Littel

March 26th, 2010
11:19 am

I find it most interesting that the apologists for the criminal operation that was the Bush regime (from the moment they stole The White House),find that the mild response of the opposition (Democrats)to an illegal war (Iraq), the transfer of vast wealth to the top (legalized theft of the Bush tax cuts), the despoiling of the economy to benefit the greed of the banking system (through rapine deregulation), all done in the name of a bumbling, inarticulate puppet of corporate interests, can be used to defend themselves from the hatred and threats, threat of armed retaliation and even of violent revolution, being whipped up by them, against a man whose only goal is to use the power of the government to help ease the pain and suffering of our country’s people, as in “WE THE PEOPLE”.

StJ

March 26th, 2010
11:26 am

Joan, you got it right. All the crap benefitting somebody or some group of influence to the detriment of individual taxpayers/citizens (who are supposed to have rights) have eroded any sense of fairness most of us had at some point in the distant past.

The Government Bank of Trust is definitely empty. This is what’s left.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 26th, 2010
11:31 am

Dear hatin’, “Hilarious that the Democrats are now conveyed as bullies and overlords. I thought they were soft-on-terror wimps. which is it?” Sorry you are confused, certainly not likely an unusual state for you; the answer is “both.” The leftists running American into the ground are soft on America-haters, but are malicious thieves who would incarcerate, bankrupt, or destroy normal, patriotic people.

Barack

March 26th, 2010
12:03 pm

My answer to this problem is simple. Now repeat after me…”Koomby Yah…KoomBy Ya. Change you can Believe in…Koomby Ya”

Byron Mathison Kerr

March 26th, 2010
12:04 pm

To Ward, March 26th, 2010, 10:59 am:

Seems like there’s so much pressure these days to constantly be in touch and in the know. I keep wondering when permanent, surgically-installed communication implants will be introduced. Information is starting to seem like an addiction, and so much of it is designed to actively influence reasoning, belief, and behavior. You make some good points. I think most people had a better perspective on things back when we got our news in the evening from Walter Kronkite and were left to focus on our own lives the rest of the day.

To Robert Littel, March 26th, 2010, 11:19 am:

It truly is mindboggling to step back, look at the facts that you have presented, and realize the extreme level of programming so much of the population has been subjected to.

Jefferson

March 26th, 2010
12:21 pm

Go ahead, jump.

No More Progressives!

March 26th, 2010
12:28 pm

Recovered Demoholic

March 26th, 2010
10:20 am
I’m assuming this is mostly about the ‘Hoyer, Lewis, Pelosi, et al. hand-holding, perp-walk.’ Did you see the video at eleven? No! Because, there was none. If there were, we would have seen it, since there were so many active cameras at the event.

Baseless race hustling and fear mongering.

Excellent point. And to magnify matters, where were The Right Reverends Al and Jesse? The most dangerous place in media is standing between them and a camera.

No More Progressives!

March 26th, 2010
12:30 pm

Oh, Gawd………….Professor Littel from the University of Numbnuts is back………………

No More Progressives!

March 26th, 2010
12:39 pm

Señor DuMass

March 26th, 2010
9:39 am
Nothing is going to stop it, Bob. I mean look at the first few posts. GOP “has no ideas…..”

Would you admit it if they did? Would you accept them if they were, in fact, better than prevaiing thought?

Somehow, I question this.

Borat

March 26th, 2010
2:48 pm

Meestur Bob. You and all your unhappy peoples can come over to leeve in my country. Whee live in peace and harmony and have a good leader…not a socialist sheepherder. Whee pay our bills and our currency is strong and whee do not owe trillions of dollars of phony money.

Ironwood

March 26th, 2010
4:36 pm

I like Obama’s way. I think he is real smart and we should just listen to him. He knows a lot of things the rest of us do not know, that is why he is president.

A True Patriot

March 26th, 2010
4:37 pm

The whole problem revolves around the media…..they are so starved for news they’ll say or print anything to sell their product. They’re just delaying the inevitable…..the Internet’s gonna take over the news soon. Thank you Bob Barr, a great american, for keeping us informed.

You Distort/We Deride

March 26th, 2010
4:45 pm

Sadly, the constituents merely echo and emulate the actions of their respective Congresscritters or media blowhards. They are responsible for the fragmentation of our nation. Rather than a spirit of compromise existing with the noble minority party, whomever that may be, it always has to be a power play, winner take all. The two-party system is our foe; it is unimaginable that 300 million of us have but 2 choices to define our politics. Until we resculpt the political landscape to encompass a myriad of political choices, namely, multiple parties for various divergent ideologies, we will continue this endless tug-of-war to nowhere.

Abrazos

March 26th, 2010
5:16 pm

Joan, if you ever worked for a corporation, you sure didn’t look into its financials very closely or you wouoldn’t think they are being “squeezed”. I work for a Fortune 10 company, as in one of the ten biggest companies worldwide, and I can assure you that corporations are not the “victims” here. They ship jobs off-shore, laying off good American employees, because they can and there’s no incentive (or disincentive) not to. They fire large numbers of people to pump up the stock price by a few cents a share, stretching the remaining employees to the breaking point. They discriminate against older workers because the Supreme Court has ruled in their favor again and again (the lastest was “Gross vs. FBL Finance” just last year). They pay the executives outsize salaries relative to their productivity. I love my job but I have no illusions that corporations are somehow saintly.

Chris Broe

March 26th, 2010
5:57 pm

This incendiary climate is being fueled by both parties.

AND the media!

Eric

March 26th, 2010
6:01 pm

Abrazos, I agree Joan has misinterpreted the impact to corporations (the source of much of our troubles with jobs on the decline). Consider too, how technology displaces people and jobs. But Joan is so very right with the other matters, and I agree with her that THIS IS NOT AMERICA (a song by David Bowie, if I recall).

Fred

March 26th, 2010
6:20 pm

The people screeching about their “freedom” and “this is not America” and “I want my country back!” are funny. I really hope they are laying awake at night all petrified about the black helicopters and being enslaved. Hilarious.

DMR

March 27th, 2010
7:16 am

I think everyone who has an opinion has a right to it. I also think if you have never taken the time to actually READ; not skim, not browse, not peruse; READ the United States Constitution, you can begin to understand the thoughts, feelings, and fears the Founding Fathers had when establishing this Country as it pertains to the rule of law. I am all for helping those who cannot help themselves. But we have entered an era of “NO PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.” Each person owes it to himself/herself to take an active and responsible role in our Society if and when they are capable. But the bottom line of my comments…READ THE CONSTITUTION and understand it before you make arguments based on something you don’t understand.

Robert Littel

March 27th, 2010
8:02 am

NMP – If that is the depth of your response to a statement of fact, you must have crawled out of the shallow end of the gene pool, like most rigid doctrinaire Right-wing idiots who don’t understand pragmatism, or Human compassion.

jopar

March 27th, 2010
9:24 am

Bob,Bob,Bob, That’s Republicans and Fox News you’re talking about.Say so.

David B.

March 27th, 2010
8:18 pm

While I’d agree the media has fanned the fires of division, that is nothing new, but the GOP has been terribly irresponsible during this entire fiasco. David Frum was right. This is their Waterloo, and they dug their own hole. The Republicans need to go back to their roots, fiscal conservatism, and not try to follow their media’s lead, i.e.: Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin.

GaLiberal

March 28th, 2010
3:46 am

Bob ‘Blab Blab Blab’ Barr is just another republiNazi shill and has no credibility. He’s no better than Kyle Wingnut and that overblown Wooten.

No More Progressives!

March 28th, 2010
7:24 am

GaLiberal

March 28th, 2010
3:46 am
Bob ‘Blab Blab Blab’ Barr is just another republiNazi shill and has no credibility. He’s no better than Kyle Wingnut and that overblown Wooten.

Then why do you read him? I suspect your time is better spent marching with Code Pink.

RepbliNazi is really a classy, eloquent remark, by the way, Ms. Fellow Traveler.