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President Barack Obama told 60 Minutes Sunday night that the national debate on issues is “coarsening.”
File that away in the “well, doh!” category.
Saying political debate in this country is getting “coarse” is like saying serial killer Ted Bundy had an anger management problem.
Political debate ceased being debate long ago. Discussion of issues is not debate — it’s a shout fest with the loudest, most obnoxious name-caller getting the most attention.
Been that way for a long time and the problem is not limited to political debate.
Let’s face it: America has become a rude, coarse society. College and professional sports have become “in your face” free for alls where thugs rule the day and bad behavior is not only encouraged, but rewarded.
Loudmouths who long ago mastered the art of the insult dominate cable TV “news,” with Keith Olbermann ranting from the left and Bill O’Reilly delivering diatribes from the right.
Rush Limbaugh didn’t become the top radio talk show host by being nice. His rude, racist, right-wing rhetoric plays well with those who make up the conservative base in this country.
Don Imus calls an African-American girls’ basketball team “nappy-haired ho’s” and loses his job for a while but is back on the air and will soon be spouting his racist rhetoric live and on TV from the Fox Business channel as well.
An obscure South Carolina Congressman shouts “you lie” from the well of the House while President Barack Obama is speaking to a joint session of Congress and becomes a hero to the rabid right.
Said Obama on 60 Minutes:
The truth of the matter is that there has been, I think, a coarsening of our political dialogue. I will also say that in the era of 24-hour cable news cycles, that the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. And so one of the things that I’m trying to figure out is: How can we make sure that civility is interesting?
Don’t even try, Mr. President. Politics is a dirty business. Always has been, always will be.
Let’s remember that this nation started its life as a colony of England, home of one of the most contentious, scrappy and outright rude governments on earth.
Debates before Parliament have always been raucous affairs with shouting and insults ruling the day.
Exchanges between political rivals Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone in the 1800s often erupted into a volley of insults like this one:
Gladstone: “You sir, shall die on the gallows or of venereal disease.”
Disraeli: “That, sir, depends on whether I embrace your principles…or your mistress.”