Friday, September 5

Just Ramblin, No 18. Same Ole, Same Ole

I am weary of political rhetoric. I am weary of people twisting words and meanings. I am weary of people seeming to try to want to see the worst in anyone who does not agree with them on everything. I am weary of people try to dredge up old remarks and situations as though comments or decisions made 10 or 15 years ago, or even a few years ago, reflect what one thinks or believes now. Please God that we're all wiser now with more experience and information. I triple dog dare anyone to say that they have exactly all of the same positions, impressions, opinions on everything they had 10 or 15 years ago, or even a few years ago.

But, like a moth to a flame, I cannot resist what others are saying and thinking. I read yesterday's editorials in my local newspaper. They're editorials so people can say whatever they want to say. I wish they'd tone down the righteous histrionics but I'm guilty of that myself on occasion, so never mind. Anyway, one guy wrote as his "fact" that Bush "has been president for nearly eight years and Republicans controlled Congress for most of that period. Only since 2007 have Democrats held Capitol Hill." I got stuck on the word "controlled" and spent a little too much time deconstructing the text. But I'm not sure having the majority necessarily means being in control, especially of Congress and in the absence of bipartisanship.

I'd love to blame party politics for the general muck up in Congress, but I think lobbyists and special interests of the politicians as well as the groups that court them are at root of much of the problems in Congress.

I've been thinking a lot about convention speeches of both Obama and McCain. I am a Republican with Independent and Democrat leanings. I am undecided. I abhor Illinois politics and am revolted by Chicago and Cook County politicking. I've decided, for better or worse, that the campaign rhetoric is simply that: rhetoric. They can stand up there and recite poetry for all I care because the promises are empty. None of these individuals has any inkling of what they will really be able to do once in office because they don't know nearly enough about what's really going on. So I'm stuck with character, record, and gut instinct.

Then someone on Plurk shared something her students sent her. Two sites differentiating between liberals and conservatives. One is at StudentDailyNews.com and the other is American Thinker. What I like about these sites is that they provide a good starting point for discussion and exploration. I don't like there are no citations, no way to determine where either site gathered its information or how. I also don't like that the sites seem to suggest there are complexities and nuances to those terms "conservative" and "liberal" or, as American Thinker states, "progressive."

Someone else on Plurk shared her blog in which she commented on an issue with Palin and an alleged attempt to ban books. What is striking about the resources she referenced is that two of the sources are blogs and one is the School Library Journal. The SLJ article notes that some of the information in the blogs is speculative, but all note that the incident occurred in 1996 when Palin was mayor of Wasilla. At the end, no books were actually banned and no one really seems to know if Palin had actual titles in mind. So this might be another tempest in a teapot.

Now, I like Sarah Palin. I'm not over the moon about her, but I think she is delightfully refreshing. I have no idea if she is equipped to be VP, but I have no idea if Obama is really equipped to be president just as I don't really know if McCain is really equipped to be president. Let's set that aside for the moment. I was never a Hillary fan. Never. I felt no guilt in not supporting her just because she's a woman of a certain age. I've known men who were better feminists, so it wasn't a gender issue.

What I'm getting at is that those who run for office do their best, we hope, to represent themselves as they are: their core beliefs, values, and positions; their experience with all of its warts and how they have come to believe what they believe now. I don't care if people change their minds. I do it all the time. What I do care about is why they change their minds, what has influenced their decisions over time and, perhaps, how much time has passed.

If in 1996 Sarah Palin talked to the librarian and the possibility of banning some books, well, she had her reasons which, apparently, weren't very strong because it seems no books were banned. It seems to me the greater concern would be about the intimation that Governor Palin tried to fire a librarian for disagreeing with her. Because of the more recent alleged brother-in-law incident, I'd be more concerned about a possible pattern of getting rid of people who don't agree with her.

But I'd also have to say that before we jump on any bandwagons or start stringing up any scapegoats, we need to make sure we have gathered as much information as possible. All of us have read or known of too many reputations that have been damaged because of hints and allegations based on supposition and speculation.

If we don't make those very basic kinds of changes for common decency and civility, well, we are destined to continue to exist in the same sort of toxic political atmosphere in which we've barely managed to survive for a lot longer than anyone really cares to remember.

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