Mark DeMoss shuts down his effort to require politicians to play nice — for lack of interest

Two years ago, just before Barack Obama was sworn in as president, Christian publicist Mark DeMoss of Buckhead hooked up with Democrat Lanny Davis to launch something called the Civility Project – a movement to require people in politics to play nice.

It was a match of opposites. DeMoss, a Republican, had just finished a stint as Mitt Romney’s liaison to evangelicals in the ’08 presidential campaign. Davis is liberal, and Jewish.

In May, the pair sent a letter to 585 members of Congress and all 50 governors, asking them to sign the following 32-word pledge:

– I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.

– I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.

– I will stand against incivility when I see it.

Only three members of Congress complied – Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut; U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia; and Susan Myrick, a Republican from North Carolina.

Last week, only days before the rampage in Tucson, Ariz., DeMoss shut his experiment down. “I must admit to scratching my head as to why only three members of Congress, and no governors, would agree to what I believe is a rather low bar,” DeMoss wrote to the three who put their names to the petition. He included this paragraph:

Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this project has been the tone and language used by many of those posting comments on our website and following articles on various media websites about the project. Many of them could not be printed or spoken in public media due to vulgar language and vicious personal attacks. Sadly, a majority of these came from fellow conservatives.

Georgia’s Republican congressmen are rejecting any suggestion that hot political rhetoric may have played a role in the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of a federal judge. So is former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich. From

“There’s no evidence that I know of that [Jared Loughner] was anything except nuts,” he said, later adding, “This person was apparently by any reasonable standard deranged.”

If anything, Gingrich hinted, Loughner might be left-leaning.
“Certainly, the books that he had in his library tended to be left wing, much more Marxist and communist,” Gingrich said. “He was apparently an atheist. He was by no standard that I know of had any connection with any tea party of any kind.”

But some very important Republicans think differently. From the New York Times:

Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, on Monday embraced the idea of a more civil public discourse in the wake of the shootings in Arizona.

In an interview with Russell Simmons, which was posted on the Web site of the founder of Def Jam records, Mr. Ailes said that his network would try to cool the heated rhetoric.

“I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually,” Mr. Ailes said. “You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.”

Aside from an icy inauguration on Monday, the issuing of rewards was the order of the day for Gov. Nathan Deal. From Walter Jones of Morris News Service:

[Deal] began putting his stamp on state government by swearing in a new member of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, Philip Wilheit Sr. of Gainesville. The board canceled its meeting today because of poor road conditions but plans to meet Wednesday.

Wilheit fills the remainder of Felton Jenkins’ term.

Jenkins, an Atlanta lawyer who lived in Madison, died New Year’s Day after a short battle with brain cancer.

Wilheit headed Deal’s campaign and his transition. He is the president of a Gainesville packaging and marketing company.

The new governor also tapped two other longtime politicos to head the Judicial Nominating Commission, Randy Evans and Pete Robinson. Evans, an Atlanta lawyer who’s handled ethics cases for senior state and congressional Republicans, serves on the State Election Board.

Robinson, of Columbus, is also affiliated with a large Atlanta law firm. He served as Democratic leader in the state Senate during Deal’s legislative career, and his firm has been hired to assist the state in redistricting.

Evans also served as legal counsel to the Deal gubernatorial campaign.

Committee chairmanships for the state Senate are expected out at any time. Leaks are already proliferating: Bill Heath, R-Bremen, as chairman of the finance committee. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, as chairman of reapportionment.

The latter makes much sense, given that Seabaugh is a close friend of U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who is deeply involved in reapportionment on a national level.

Steve Stancil, the head of the Georgia Building Authority, was in the lobby of the Holiday Inn down the street from the state Capitol this morning, trying to assess what state offices are open today, and which are not.

Most are closed, but the decision has been left up to the state’s individual constitutional officers. The state Supreme Court has shut down for a second day. The state Department of Education was asking workers to show up late this morning.

Stancil had two warnings: First, pack a lunch, because food services are scarce. Second, the security personnel in charge of opening doors may not be around. So getting inside could be a problem.

House Republican leaders continue to throw off signs that a constitutional proposal to create a new Milton County isn’t likely to get anywhere this session. Earlier, the measure’s principal sponsor, Jan Jones of Milton, had said there was no rush – because the measure would have to appear on the November 2012 ballot.

On Monday, Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) brought up the topic with House Speaker David Ralston, who said:

I’ve had discussions with people who have concerns about the proposal. And quite frankly, there are people out in the state who have concerns about the proposal. We’ll weigh those in the balance as we get into the session.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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18 comments Add your comment

Georgia Conservative

January 11th, 2011
10:55 am

I’m a conservative, but I think Mr. Ailes may have a problem by tellling his broadcasters to turn down the rhetoric. I’m not sure any that group, Hannity in particular, is capable of anything but bombast and spewing talking points. I don’t think they are generally hateful, as some might allege, but in many cases they’re not making intellectual arguments or are simply regurgitating what they’ve heard from true conservative thinkers. There are some very solid conservative thinkers, I’m just not sure any of them have there own show on Fox.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, Jim Galloway and Kerwin Swint. Kerwin Swint said: Political civility project abandoned for lack of interest: [...]

Road Scholar

January 11th, 2011
11:02 am

Newt says someone who is deranged is not influenced by anger or rhetoric! Another crock from the past speaker! How does someone who is deranged reason whether someting is true?

““I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually,” – we’re screwed!

Last Man Standing

January 11th, 2011
11:10 am

Georgia Conservative:

“There are some very solid conservative thinkers, I’m just not sure any of them have there own show on Fox.”

Exactly how would you describe a “very solid conservative thinker”? Who do you think is a “very solid conservative thinker”?

Last Man Standing

January 11th, 2011
11:13 am

Road Scholar:

“we’re screwed!”

That is a condition to which you are accustomed.

Dumb and Dumber

January 11th, 2011
11:21 am

I agree that there are some very solid conservative thinkers out there and I don’t think the problem is that Hannity and Co. cannot make intellectual arguments. The problem is that we have a remote-control viewing population with the attention span of a 4 year old. That means you have to whip them into a white-knuckled panic every 30 seconds or they’ll turn to other stimulating programming like Dancing With The Real Housewives Of The Jersey Shore. Eventually, ratings will be impacted by asking the same people (whose newspapers are written at a 7th grade reading level) to think and sponsors will demand more bombast.

Keep in mind that television programming is only intended to keep you watching the commercials. Informing, educating and/or entertaining the viewers is only an unintended consequence.


January 11th, 2011
11:34 am

I don’t see the difference between the politicians and rappers. Their “lyrics” are no different and cause the exact same damage. Our country has a lingering negative undertone, that I haven’t experienced since I was born and it is quite evident. The campaigns are not really campaigns anymore they are just attacks on each other and majority of it is over exaggerated, fabricated, deceit and lies. Companies get in trouble for false advertisement. Maybe politicians need to be held accountable for their action and impose severe punishment for misinformation and lies in their campaigns. Then they would think twice about doing it. But oh I forgot when you do it in the political arena everything is game and it is totally different than if someone outside does it.

Voting has become more so an event to keep the lesser evil out of office, none of these officials represent any principal or values only “their” interest whatever it maybe but it definitely is no longer a job of people that care about the citizens


January 11th, 2011
11:45 am

I’m not speaking for Georgia Conservative, but I think George Wills and Charles Krauthammer are two examples of solid conservative thinkers, with emphasis on “thinker.” Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck – not so much.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway. Jim Galloway said: Mark DeMoss shuts down his effort to require politicians to play nice — for lack of interest [...]

Road Scholar

January 11th, 2011
11:49 am

Last man: Good response! But how do we know you are really a man?

Last Man Standing

January 11th, 2011
12:21 pm


” I think George Wills and Charles Krauthammer”

We are in agreement, though I favor the latter. He has demonstrated to me that he is a critical, conservative thinker. I can’t bring to mind a single occasion that I have differed from him on opinion. I believe conservatives would do well to listen and read his thoughts and positions.


January 11th, 2011
12:30 pm

The left (hence the MSM) has been caught using the Arizona mess for political hay. Now the right is firing back:

Reportedly, Loughner had a history of making public death threats that been ignored by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department…

What the The Cholla Jumps site is alleging – and which has not yet been confirmed- is the following:
Jared Loughner has been making death threats by phone to many people in Pima County including staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. When Pima County Sheriff’s Office was informed, his deputies assured the victims that he was being well managed by the mental health system. It was also suggested that further pressing of charges would be unnecessary and probably cause more problems than it solved as Jared Loughner has a family member that works for Pima County.


January 11th, 2011
12:44 pm

dmcsga says:

“…..none of these officials represent any principal or values only “their” interest whatever it maybe but it definitely is no longer a job of people that care about the citizens.”

Based on the fact that Georgian’s elected Sonny twice, and just elected the Real Deal, politicians and their beneficiaries have learned to count on the electorate’s inability to correctly interpret information. All the candidates have to do is declare documented facts of wrong doing to be lies perpetrated by the opposing party. The majority of voters are not capable of cognitive thinking. I’m not even sure if they are aware of the consequences of their actions.

Georgia Conservative

January 11th, 2011
1:21 pm

Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell, George Will, and many of the writers you’ll find at National Review, are excellent conservative thinkers. There are others as well.

Missouri Mom

January 11th, 2011
1:44 pm

I would agree that bombast and resentment are tools that Hannity and others use very well. As a progressive I will add Keith O to that mix – although Keith is a thinker – he sticks with bombastic very well. So who are our thinkers both liberal and conservative? I have to believe that Rachel Maddow is up there – she takes us through logical and well researched arguments – but can’t find people who will respond in kind. When she does encounter someone like that she is respectful, does not interrupt their arguments and allows them to finish their arguments. Please let me know of a conservative on air who does that currently. A thinker is one who examines both sides of an issue, listens respectfully and then is able to use both knowledge and respect in building his or her own arguments. My suggestion is: If you are conservative learn to critique conservatives and make them use real arguments instead of talking points. If you are a liberal do the same. In other words let us be the loyal critics people ;need in order to be more than bombastic hacks. My congressman put it every well this week on Meet the Press. I wish I had the exact quote but it was something like – we now meet someone who disagrees and declare them the enemy. I disagree with you so you must be evil because I could not be wrong. That is what 24/7 news has done to us all. We – as good people with opposing views – must demand the conversation become both civil and truthful.

Bernadette Conley

January 11th, 2011
1:54 pm

Please renew your efforts to get members of the new Congress and the Senate to sign the pledge. Now is a time for reflection, and the perfect time for our elected officials to consider the impact of their words. There are a couple of elected leaders in North Carolina who I believe would sign the pledge if it was brought to their attention.

[...] publicist Mark DeMoss of Buckhead hooked up with Democrat Lanny Davis to launch something called the Civility Project – a movement to require people in politics to play [...]


January 12th, 2011
8:09 am

On the issue of adding a county, Georgia would be better served by consolidating many counties. It is ironic that, in a state where polls show a particular disdain for governments, we seem not only to be overrun with them but clamor to add more.