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Speaker Boehner’s Foot-Fault

January 14, 2011

President Obama gave one of his best speeches Wednesday night in Arizona.  Period.

On the other hand, Speaker Boehner, by not attending the Arizona service, committed, in my mind, what amounts to a very unfortunate foot-fault.  I remain bullish on the relationship between the two, although I must admit; my confidence took a hit within a day of originally expressing my enthusiasm.  For what it is worth, see the attached link for the reasons Speaker Boehner stayed in Washington DC rather than travel with the President (http://bit.ly/hDfSjT).

Instead of using my own words today, I provide excerpts from two New York Times columnists, Mr. David Brooks and Mr. Paul Krugman.  While I find little common ground with Mr. Krugman (including his Monday editorial) he does touch on a meaningful observation today (http://nyti.ms/gJQvaj):

In a way, politics as a whole now resembles the longstanding politics of abortion — a subject that puts fundamental values at odds, in which each side believes that the other side is morally in the wrong. Almost 38 years have passed since Roe v. Wade, and this dispute is no closer to resolution.

Yet we have, for the most part, managed to agree on certain ground rules in the abortion controversy: it’s acceptable to express your opinion and to criticize the other side, but it’s not acceptable either to engage in violence or to encourage others to do so.

What we need now is an extension of those ground rules to the wider national debate.

Right now, each side in that debate passionately believes that the other side is wrong. And it’s all right for them to say that. What’s not acceptable is the kind of violence and eliminationist rhetoric encouraging violence that has become all too common these past two years.

While I am yet to be convinced that the tragic events occurring in Arizona were the direct (or even indirect) result of politics, but rather, the sad result of a very disturbed individual, Mr. Krugman’s words, when applied to today’s political rhetoric, ring loud and true.  Civility is needed; and it is the responsibility of all.

Mr. Brooks writes an excellent editorial today as well in the New York Times.  His quote of Mr. Niebuhr stands alone and I adopt it as my closing thought (http://nyti.ms/dYxbb6).

In a famous passage, Reinhold Niebuhr put it best: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. … Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”

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