Dear Big Daddy,
First Dems talk about the “end of the era of civility” when Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at Obama. Then Tom Amianno does the same to the Governor—then adds a “kiss my gay ass”—and the Dems hardly make a peep. What gives?
Mrs. Manners in Murrieta
To tell the truth, I’ve always thought civility, like celibacy, was overrated. At least when it comes to politics, that is. Where else, outside of marriage, do we pretend so hard that we actually like our sworn enemies?
Not to defend shrill Tom and his unoriginal taunt, but there were a few differences here. For one thing, Barack “Rope-a-Dope” Obama doesn’t dish out too many verbal jabs himself. Even then, I can hardly say Wilson’s outburst bothered me. As a Dem, I say it’s time for Obama to finally earn some of that gray hair we’ve been seeing more and more of. If it takes a barely-reconstructed segregationist from the state that gave us the Civil War spouting conspiracy theories that even Anne Coulter doesn’t take seriously in order to light a fire under Obama’s mom jeans, so be it.
Now contrast all this with our governor. Maybe the era of him calling the Legislature “girlie men” is over (though too bad he didn’t save that one up for this occasion). But he still has a long history of lashing out, dismissing and belittling his opponents, particularly the residents of those big red and green rooms above his office. From everything I’ve seen since 2003, Schatzi can take it, dish it out and serve it with fries. I doubt he’s too worried about being served a half-pint of derision.
Nope, I’m annoyed with Major Tom for entirely another reason: it was bad strategy. When you’re a member of a marginalized minority, dignity usually wins out in the long run. We never heard MLK say “I have a dream…that you can kiss my black ass.” Gandhi never crotch-grabbed his loincloth at the British Empire. Larry Flint never…wait, I forgot where I was going with that.
The point is, Tom actually made the governor look like the victim here. When the head of state visits your town, leave the lashing out to the folks chanting and holding signs out on the street.
That’s what they’re there for. Wait for the local TV news to thrust a fuzzy mic in your face and then say something serious and pre-prepared about children without medical care. When you’re making six-figures and have a doctor plan that most healthy families can only dream of, it’s not your ass that’s on the line.
In other words, play the grown up. Asking for a peck on the cheek can be great for getting headlines in the short term. But a quick look around can give you a good idea of where short-term thinking gets us.