Politicians who make you feel ashamed

A strong Democratic friend of mine texted that he was glad President Donald J. Trump would not (as looks likely) attend Joe Biden’s inauguration.

What some of our lawmakers act like.

The inauguration is likely to be the least-attended in memory because of COVID-19 protocols, which Biden is more likely to observe than hypocrites such as the mayors of Chicago and Denver, the governor of California, the Speaker of the House, and some others, all Democrats.

As to the expected Trump absence, my friend wrote, “Makes it easier to beat up the bum into the indefinite future.” As if Democrats need an excuse. Beating up Trump is as regular as brushing their teeth.

“There’s a level of hypocrisy that’s worse than regular, everyday, garden variety petty jealousy,” he wrote.

Here’s how I replied: “I agree. It’s as low as the Dems who didn’t attend Trump’s.” For the record, that was almost one-third of the House of Representatives.

My friend protested, saying President Barack Obama attending Trump’s was a better analogy. 

My reply was that the Democratic Reps and Trump were equally guilty of behavior that was boorish, rude, and shattering of norms. One difference? Trump ran on the promise of shattering norms, of being a bull in a (boycott) China shop, of draining the swamp. His bad behavior was not hypocrisy. 

It was a promise kept.

(For those of you just joining the party, I voted for neither Trump nor Biden. I voted Libertarian.) 

Now we’ll see how many Republican members of Congress will boycott Biden’s inauguration. Boycotts have happened occasionally before.

How did we get so low, so hateful, so mean, so petty? This is getting to be like a kindergarten for social retards. Democracy used to be our business. It now seems like vengeance.

I say “we” because bad behavior is not restricted to the political class, who are supposed to have, you know, manners. There are rules in the House and Senate that prohibit members throwing shade on each other.

When in session, they usually refer to someone they are going to attack as “my friend,” and if they ever use “my distinguished colleague,” you know what follows will be truly horrid.

Once upon a time, like 1838, Congressmen challenged each other to duels, such as the one in which a Kentucky Rep killed a Maine Rep. The Good Old Days.

Nowadays, a rude cry of “You lie!” during a State of the Union, is regarded as a gunshot. That was South Carolina Rep Joe Wilson, who apologized after being attacked from both sides of the aisle after interrupting Obama.

Some called it racist, because Obama is Black and Wilson is a Southern Republican. Without question, it was rude.

What do we expect? Have you been on anti-social media lately? 

What happens there doesn’t resemble the Lincoln/Douglas debates. 

More like the Three Stooges with eyepokes, pants kicks,  and frying pans bouncing off heads.

What I know is both sides have alligators in the swamp, and the discourse has gotten worse in recent years. Trump was vilified even worse than Obama before him and George W. Bush before him and Bill Clinton before him. That takes us all the way into the last century.

Also in the last century, much earlier even than Bubba Clinton, was my bar mitzvah, for which I was selected, not elected.

Anyway, after I had finished my terrifying, shaky attempt to read a passage from the Torah in Hebrew, there followed the fun part — the reception.

A big cake was wheeled out for me to stand next to in the rented hall in The Bronx as important people in my life were called up to plant an Israeli flag in the cake in celebration. (Israel had returned to existence just five years earlier.) There were 13 flags, for 13 years of age, and some of the people who were called up were pairs — such as both sets of grandparents, and my parents.

One flag was given to my sister, with whom I did not get along at the time. 

She was 9 and walked up to the cake stiff-legged and nervous. She planted her flag and reached up to kiss her big brother on the cheek.

Defying custom, tradition, and manners, her big brother — much taller than she — stood at full height so she could not reach his cheek — and the photographer snapped the picture just then to immortalize my juvenile boorishness.

It’s more than 60 years later and I am still deeply ashamed.

I was 13 years old.

What excuse do the inaugural boycotters have? 

21 thoughts on “Politicians who make you feel ashamed”

  1. why dont you write about these state house hearings , no press is covering them . My vote went to germany and came back to Philly . WTF. something is wrong with that . I watched two of the hearings in different states . I think Biden had a moment when he said at a press conference we have the best voting scam program ever in a presidential race . Everyone took it as a gaff. I think he knew, and just said it. How did he get more votes than Obama which was a historic election
    What has happened to journalism , there is no curiosity any more , Just cut and paste and take orders from the top .

      1. Respectfully, would mentioning “Washington Post” and “fact check” in the same sentence be considered an oxymoron? Are they not unlike The Philadelphia Inquirer? Or even The National Enquirer? Or National Lampoon? And I am not a Germany, Spain, Venezuela or Wonderland conspiracy theorist. Just a fan of this site and its author.

    Once again, you are right as rain ! We used to be a civilized nation in a civilized world. That went out the window after 911.

  3. I think you are dead wrong about people behaving like children. And I’m going to hold my breath until you apologize!

  4. You ask at the end, “What excuse do the inaugural boycotters have?”

    And you answered your own question. Obviously, they are still 13 years old!

    In addition, so long as you mentioned it, they should bring back duels to Congress to settle “ungentlemanly” matters. Just do it electronically – as in Laser Tag form. 20 paces, turn, and Zapp! Whoever loses either quits or their congressional seat, or has some other equally onerous task to perform.

  5. I too voted libertarian to save my marriage and keep my house from being set ablaze.Read Michael Warren Douglas’s piece in the Spectator “Libertarians Suck”.

  6. If we accept the fact that our species is still quite young in a comparison of other planet species and the rapid advancement of our intellectual abilities and life extension has made many of us cold and indifferent. With the expeditious advance of the computer life has been made much more comfortable and less challenging so then it trickles down to everyone that discipline, a moral code and mutual respect have been left behind because of the use of all the new tools that relieved us from past chores. When life becomes mentally lazy then we become picayune and selfless striking out with bursts of language and responses that in the past we would have hesitated to spout without past thoughtful consideration. That is only my opinion but the language on Facebook and other social media has abused the Dictionary by using only four letter words which adds credence to my point of view.

  7. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    It may be true that the GOP hated President Clinton; but, then, as I recall, “marginalization on grounds of suspicion of political incorrectness” came in and bloomed during the administration of the man from Arkansas. That is my impression in any case. American politics will continue in its dysfunctional modes so long as the practice persists of attempting to effectively eliminate the jobs and life prospects of supposed opponents or competitors.

    I like to put the point in Aristotelian style: Without self-restraint there is no virtue–and no political virtue in particular. What this implies is the need of restraining oneself from the impulsive excesses to which one is most inclined. President-elect Biden recently expressed a similar point. To unify the country, we will all have to make some sacrifices. He says he wants to govern in the interest of all the people and not just some of the people. What this will come to remains to be seen. In purely political terms, given their disappointments in the election, generalized favoritism toward their own selected constituencies appears less viable than it did during the Summer.

    H.G. Callaway

  8. Stu, totally agree with you that social media tends to encourage folks who are unfailingly polite in person to behave like adolescent idiots online. As I doubt the rabbit-hole that is ‘social media’ will simply fade away, wondering what your thoughts are on how we might all move beyond the current descent into chaos? I continue to think that reasonableness should be a non-partisan attribute. But the extremes on both end of the political spectrum seem increasingly disinclined.

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