September 17, 2009

A Liberal Questions Obama

Will Collier points out a very interesting set of thoughts from a very liberal observer of politics:
To my ears, Obama's speech before Congress was a bundle of contradictions - one big, fat lie. I did not buy his claim that real health care reform, the kind we on the left can believe in, won't add a "dime" or even a penny to our out-of-control federal deficit. Nor did I hear anything credible from him about controlling the skyrocketing costs of Medicare and Medicaid. The promises he listed simply did not add up. I said to myself - not being on the floor of Congress at the time - "you lie." That heretical thought did not make me a "racist." Nor did the expression of the idea make Joe Wilson a "racist."
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Indeed, I think those who so cavalierly play the race card are actually insulting Obama. When Obama's supporters feverishly play the race card they know exactly what they're doing - they are trying to stop the conversation. But Obama says he wants to encourage dialogue, so the racialists who back him do him no favor.
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[C]an't we disagree with the President and oppose what he has to say as a "lie" without interrupting him while he is speaking?

By the same token, can't those who object to Obamacare and an Obama Nation be recognized as wholly within their rights to speak up and to ridicule the man who temporarily occupies the White House, without having to genuflect and bow before the President?

As a liberal, I must ask: Why can't liberals who support Obama make an intelligent argument without accusing those who disagree with us of racism, and sideswiping other liberals who, like me, when I heard Obama's speech, reflexively agreed with Wilson's sentiment - to wit, "Mr. President, you lie!"?

We ought to be able to do those things, Mr. Meyers, but we can't, because Americans appear to be losing the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.

Once, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas toured Illinois together so they could debate on the greatest and most emotional issues of the day, issues upon which the two men strenuously disagreed. Yet they never questioned one anothers' good faith or patriotism, they took meals together and while traveling from town to town to hold their debates, they became friends and passed the time in warm conversation. Few politicians mourned the death of President Lincoln more than Stephen Douglas, his former political rival.

It is not the lack of lengthy, substantive exchange of ideas between Lincoln and Douglas that I decry today, it is the culture of political tribalism which makes such an exchange seem impossible. It is a great shame and more to the point, within that kind of dehumanizing polarization lie seeds which, if allowed to germinate, will be our collective undoing.

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