A hardening of the arteries in the Body Politic

Let me start this post with an apology to those of you who stop by this space every day for going so long without something new to say.
When I re-started this blog, my intention was to write every day, or close to every day, so that folks couldn’t come to it on a daily basis and find old stuff. Fresh content is everything on the Internets. So I’m sorry that I haven’t been on my game lately.
While busyness is the principal cause of that, some of it came from a need to step back for a minute and fully take in just how rough it’s become in Political Land.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m naive enough to believe that things have ever been different. I do live in Philadelphia and to keep it real, the political landscape here is almost Wild West-like in its brutality. Our municipal flag should have “Survival of the Fittest” on it because that’s what you have to be to make it out of our primaries without gunshot wounds.
But when I see some of the things that folks are saying about those with whom they politically disagree, it lets me know that the gloves have come off and that the First Amendment is being observed in all of its take-no-prisoners glory.
Just how mean and nasty our politics have become hit me on Tuesday when Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Because of the type of tumor it is, a glioma, doctors are trying to figure out what treatment to give him and how much time he’s got left.
Admittedly, the coverage of this news got on my nerves a little bit. I was watching CNN and it was as if Kennedy was found dead on the floor of the Senate for all of the hand wringing.
But some of the reaction in the blogosphere was disheartening. I haven’t seen the word “Chappaquiddick” that many times in print in awhile. The bile was flowing like a mighty stream.
And it was totally inappropriate.
Do I recognize that Ted Kennedy was Bill Clinton before Bill Clinton? Yes. He partied hard, had fun with the ladies, and nearly trashed his career because of it.
But do I also recognize that unlike the former president Kennedy got himself together, decided that power wasn’t nearly as important as happiness, and decided to stand for the stuff he believed in rather than to compromise, although he was in the minority a whole lot and probably became a better person in the process? Yep on that, too.
While I don’t believe that folks should necessarily give him credit or agree with him because he’s ill, I do believe that kicking someone when they’re down is never cool; using a steel-toed boot even less so.
Another thing that made me a little squeamish was the attack ad that the Tennessee Republican Party put together using Michelle Obama. When her husband Barack told them to lay off, I was glad to see that chivalry wasn’t dead.
But I went on a listserve I belong to and saw Democrats demonizing Sen. Obama for saying “lay off” when it comes to his wife and saying that he’s not fit to be the Democratic nominee because he can’t take attacks like this. I don’t know when allowing someone you love to be called names became a virtue, but I guess that it is in this case.
Mind you, these were also the same people who have called Sen. Obama some nasty names during the campaign because they’re Hillary Clinton supporters and believe that in order to build her up, you have to tear him down.
But to be fair, I’ve seen some pretty nasty things said about Sen. Clinton as well. Silly me, I thought that to be a bitch you had to walk on all fours and bark. If the presidential races have taught me nothing else, they’ve taught me that I’m wrong about that.
And I’ve done all this without getting into the ageism that’s being thrown at Sen. John McCain.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that this is going to be a nasty, nasty campaign. I was hoping for less vitriol and more issue discussions, but it appears that it’s not going to happen. Vitriol is easier.
And because of that, I’ll be looking at a package of $20 chicken wings the next time that I go to the grocery store.
Now I don’t know if there’s enough Plavix to undo the hardening of our political arteries in this case, but we’ve got to find a way to cure the sickness that’s in our politics.
It’s a luxury we can’t afford anymore.
But hey, what do I know? I’m pretty sure that in some underground bunker there’s someone looking for a way to turn the decision by the Californina Supreme Court allowing gays and lesbians to get married into a nice, juicy wedge issue for the fall.

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