(Video courtesy of the Political Carnival by way of Brilliant @ Breakfast.)
It's becoming increasingly clear that civility in the post-Clinton years has become a lost art form. It's as if the day after election night 2008, we woke up, rubbed our eyes and found ourselves in the middle of a Danny Boyle movie. And many, many of us are perfectly OK with that.
Sure, I know I'm hardly one to talk. This is coming from someone who'd more than once called George W. Bush an "intellectual anorexic" and someone who got far in life possessed of nothing but "a good family name and a brain stem." But what one says in perishable blog posts and especially how they say it is another thing entirely. The jokes are to keep the locals coming back for more in the offchance I can impart some actual facts. The rest is all bullshit and I understand that. How one conducts oneself even in the act of speaking truth to power by necessity has to reflect respect for the dignity of one's office or station in life.
The Tea Baggers are another breed. These are people who probably have a hard time sitting down these days since they probably beat their bottoms raw after seeing Rush Limbaugh do it. These are corporately-led animatronic bags of hate who chew their own rickety legs off in some wild-eyed attempt to free themselves from the shackles of a Draconian socialist Obama regime that frankly and simply does not exist.
They will not be talked to. They will not be corrected and they'll probably spit in your face if you pointed out the errors in their inevitably and invariably misspelled signage. Like the Republican thugs with whom they share a tacit, uneasy alliance, these people have, despite their hatred and impenetrable ignorance, have been allowed to not only gobble up slabs of air time but have benefited from the MSM earnestly trying to persuade us that these people represent a legitimate counterargument to the health care debate.
This is just a tiny sliver of some of the informed, respectful debate to which we've been fed a steady diet since last summer. Threats of gun violence. The president's head sticking out a donkey's ass. That and scores of racist signs and anti health reform activists bringing loaded weapons to Obama health care town halls in at least three different states.
So what happened?
It all started when the incumbent President got elected in November 2008 in the first free and fair general election we'd enjoyed since Bill Clinton's reelection in 1996. From the moment the last of the polls closed, gun sales began skyrocketing either in response to a perceived Socialist takeover of health care, big business or the threat of having their shiny new toys taken away by gun-grabbing, hip-hop ninjas descending on their roofs in the dead of night from black helicopters.
After eight years of low recruitment in state militias, suddenly when a black man took over the reins of power, recruitment has swelled in a way that no one's seen since al Qaeda was overwhelmed with young men dying to blow themselves up when we invaded Iraq seven years ago.
Now we're hearing that local firearm ordinances trump federal laws that were written, ratified and signed into law to protect the President of the United States. We're hearing strenuous attempts on the part of "the liberal media" that these people do represent a valid counterargument to the health care debate and have, inexplicably, not been discounted either because of their obvious insanity and equally obvious cluelessness.
But as Jill Hussein at Brilliant @ Breakfast notes, "There was a time not so long ago that simply wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt could get you arrested. Now you can threaten gun violence against public officials and not a peep is uttered."
Exactly. It also wasn't too long ago that Cindy Sheehan was arrested and tossed from the Capitol Building just before a Bush State of the Union Address simply for wearing a tee shirt itemizing the number of American dead at that time. It wasn't very long ago when a Florida college student got tased just for asking Sen. John Kerry some tough questions about the 2004 election.
It wasn't too long ago when Hal Turner tried to take a page out of Tim Burton's playbook and threatened to disrupt the President's inauguration using poison-filled balloons and another time threatening Barack Obama's life (let's keep in mind that Turner was finally picked up not for threatening the President but three white federal judges).
It wasn't too long ago when blogger Mike Stark almost got his head put through a plate glass window at the Omni hotel for asking tough questions of then Sen. George Allen. It wasn't really too long ago even in blogging years when we learned the Pentagon was spying on Quakers and the police and FBI were doing the same thing to other antiwar groups.
Yet suddenly, just a few years after people were strong-armed out of Bush Town Halls for anti Bush editorials written years before, it's perfectly permissable for people to bring guns to presidential town halls that aren't even about the 2nd Amendment. Suddenly, wouldbe reality TV stars are allowed to enter state dinners at the White House lacking invitations and even mug for the camera with Vice President Biden, the President, the WH Chief of staff and even US Marines outside.
Suddenly, it's all good and armed men are allowed within a hundred or two yards of the president and we're supposed to be OK with that because the Secret Service is watching them really, really hard. Only an idiot would think these sudden lapses in the President's elite security detail isn't based on race or even overt racism.
You would think these people would've been laughed off and dismissed once the novelty wore off after April 15th last year especially since so many Republicans have distanced themselves from not only the Tea Party movement but even the Republican Party itself. Just yesterday, Mrs. JP and I were approached by someone seeking signatures to get on the ballot an "Independent" who wanted to unseat our Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on a platform of more cuts in federal spending including the stimulus (I handed him back his flyer and told him, "He used to be a Republican. No thanks.")
And if the Republican brand name has been irreparably damaged, as it ought to be considering what Bush and Cheney did to it, then how come this nascent, faux populist movement that has degenerated into outright racism and an even more stupendous disconnect from reality getting so much attention and even respect from the press?