O.K. I was wrong. I’m sorry.
I thought hyperbole, satire and street language would infuse much-needed passion into political debate.
It didn’t. Instead of debate, we got hate.
Hate and debate cannot co-exist. One cancels out the other. We need honest, rational debate to resolve the many problems facing this country. We cannot have that debate as long as hate is part of the equation.
I’m guilty as charged when it comes to muddying the waters of political debate. I call politicians names. Too many readers see that as a declaration of all-out war on reasonable debate. As I looked over the many comments posted after Sen. Hillary Clinton’s surprise win in New Hampshire, I saw mostly hate directed towards her and her husband. A number of emails suggested I fostered that hate with my often vitriolic comments about the Clintons.
Please understand one thing. I don’t hate the Clintons. I also don’t hate George W. Bush even though a number of web sites and blogs claim that I do. I do, however, hate some of their policies and despise some of their actions.
In today’s testy political environment it is easy to mistake passion for hate. I’m a passionate man who loves his country and hates to see what is happening to it. But the debate on how to deal with these threats must focus on issues, not personalities. It must deal with policies not pandering to base elements of anger and fear.
I was impressed by Hillary Clinton’s recovery in New Hampshire. It proved, once again, that the biggest mistake anyone can make is underestimating the Clintons. They have been, and remain, a savvy political couple who know all too well how to work the system.
When Hillary Clinton choked up and showed emotion Monday the cynic in me kicked in and I suspected a setup. After going back and watching the tape of the event again, and talking to some friends who covered the event, I believe my column suggesting she faked the whole thing was wrong and, frankly, in poor taste. It has been removed from our database.
I also realize that a column written before the end of the year about Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went too far in use of gutter language. I let my anger get the best of me. I was wrong and have edited the piece to tone down the language. I apologize for the poor choice in language and have sent written apologies to both.
This does not mean I have become a supporter of Hillary Clinton or George W. Bush or others that I have skewered in print. It means I have come to realize that when anger replaces passion, hate replaces debate.
I’ve promised before to tone down my writing style and focus on issues, not personalities and, unfortunately, I have backslid and fallen back into old habits. I’m like an alcoholic who falls off wagon and as a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 13 years, seven months and five days I know the dangers of backsliding all too well.
So I’ve asked a fellow journalist to review all my columns before they are published, beginning with the one today. A second check and balance will be my wife who has, all too often, read something I wrote and noted: “You could have said that in a better way.”
Hopefully, in the future, I will say things in a better way and what you read here will foster debate, not hate.