Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Name Calling: A Kingergarten Lesson for Powerful Adults

For the past three days, President Obama has been touring mostly rural areas of the Midwest to discuss jobs and job creation. In what Fox News is calling the "Bad News Bus Tour," the Washington Post has named, "Bus Force One," and Jon Stewart labels, "Oh, the Places He'll Go," Obama has met with roughly equal amounts support and discontent, though perhaps the discontent has been voiced more loudly.

And no one has voiced their discontent with Obama quite as loudly as Tea Party Members, who have attacked Obama's stance on everything from taxes to health care, particularly critiquing his push for a national health care system, similar to the one Republican Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts in 2006. Says Obama of the the Tea Party's and GOP's voracious refusal of national health care, "This used to be a republican idea. It's like they suddenly got amnesia." To Obama's credit, he has worked endlessly to find bi-partisan compromises - most highly unpopular amongst his Democratic and more liberal supporters - that the Tea Party continues to not just veto, but veto with gusto.

Obama with Ryan Rhodes and Amiga
Obama's three-day bus tour has been a comedy of errors, the pinnacle of which occurred in Decorah, IA. After addressing an audience regarding jobs and the economy, Ryan Rhodes, a Tea Party member, interrupted a Q & A session demanding to know why Vice President Biden had allegedly called Tea Party members terrorists.

Obama, in a way only Obama can, assured the man that Biden hadn't called Tea Party members terrorists, but rather referred to some of their acts as irresponsible, somewhat terrorist-esque. Granted, that's not much better, but Biden took into consideration one of the rules he had undoubtedly learned in kindergarten: do not name call.

Behind Rhodes, a woman defended her party's honor by retorting that "90% of domestic terrorists attacked are done by left-wing environmental extremists." Apparently tax breaks for wealthy corporations (hey, they're people too...), denying impoverished Americans affordable health care, refusing funding for Planned Parenthood and undermining womens' health care, and refusing to allow gay or transgendered people the same rights as straight people doesn't qualify as terrorism. (The Oxford English Dictionary: Terrorism - the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.)

Obama responded, "As someone who’s been called a socialist, not born here, taking away freedoms for providing health care, I’m all for lowering the rhetoric." He also apparently remembered the no name-calling rule from kindergarten. To his credit, Obama encourages a great deal of open dialogue, even with people whose views aren't the same as his. Recall George W. Bush blanketing dissenters in a cloak of "national security threats" and "evil doers."

Rhodes, however, refuses to believe that Biden didn't name-call: "[Obama] just denied it, he said the Vice President didn’t make any of those assertions. He doesn’t want to even admit what was on TV nationally." I urge Rhodes to rewatch the video on a source that isn't Fox News. Try this, and do your best to listen over Stars and Stripes: Terrorists? Or Just Plain Irresponsible?

Where once Obama rode the tails of the Audacity of Hope and the campaign phrase "Yes We Can," perhaps his new phrase, as Stewart suggests, may be better suited as: "I Thought We Could, But It Turns Out the Other Guys Are Assholes."

1 comment:

  1. Stewart almost always nails it. We love him. We Obama too - almost as much.