Tag Archives: civility

Civility likely to require long-term rehab

If we look ahead for a moment to the November 2020 presidential election, then we need to ponder what I consider to be the worst possible outcome: the re-election of Donald John Trump.

The president might win a second term. What in the world is going to occur then? How will the next Congress deal with a president who labels Democrats to be everything short of spawns of Satan? He won’t work with Democrats because they are continuing to insist on searching for answers to that still-nagging Russia electoral interference issue.

For their part, Democrats won’t be pleased, either, with the prospect of working while Trump is still in office. How in the world will they react? Will they keep saying and doing things that sets Trump off on endless Twitter tirades?

Imagine the president traveling overseas after the 2020 election and behaving as he did at Normandy during the commemoration of the D-Day landings of June 1944. He sat in front of those 9,000 headstones where U.S. servicemen are buried and called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

Just suppose, too, that Pelosi keeps her speakership after the 2020 election. How is she going to react to more verbal trashing from the president?

Oh, and then there’s the Senate, which might flip from Republican control to Democratic control.

Imagine that scenario, with Democrats possibly controlling both legislative chambers while Republicans keep possession of the keys to the White House.

Civility? It’s a goner. I continue to hope we can find it. Somewhere. Somehow.

It’s gone for as long as Donald Trump remains in an office for which he is totally unqualified … and I’ll say it again: for which he is unfit.

2019 won’t see a return of civility

Civility and Politics Political Cartoon

Only the most naïve Pollyanna who ever lived is going to hold out hope that the new year, the new Congress and the looming presidential election is going to signal a return of political civility.

It ain’t gonna happen, man. You don’t need me to tell you the obvious.

Democrats who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives are loaded for bear. The president of the United States, who has hurled insults the way he might toss pebbles into a pond, has opened himself up to an aura of recrimination. Democrats are in no mood to go easy on Donald Trump. The subpoenas will be flying out of committee chairs’ offices quite soon.

A brand new House member has tossed an f-bomb at Trump, declaring the Democrats’ intent — she says — to impeach him.

The government is partially shut down because Trump wants $5 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He’s accusing Democrats and the handful of Republicans who oppose The Wall of being for “open borders” and for coddling illegal immigrants at the expense of protecting Americans from the hordes of murderers, rapists, drug dealers and human traffickers he says are pouring into this country.

Is this how you make America great again? Is this how you unify a divided nation? Is this how you reach out to those who voted against you, and in Donald Trump’s case that’s more of them than those who voted for him?

I have tried to hold out a flicker of hope for a return to more civility. That hope is all but extinguished. The flicker has been blown out by all the angry hot air that’s been expelled by politicians who call their opponents “the enemy” or “evil” or any other vicious epithet you can imagine.

My hope once sprang eternal. No more.

Obama speaks fundamental truth about a statesman

I feel the need as the year winds down to share with you this video of Barack H. Obama eulogizing the late John S. McCain.

It’s about 19 minutes long. You need to set aside some time to watch it. I am gripped and saddened by the unspoken truth that the former president speaks about his former rival and how it reflects on the present day.

President Obama speaks at length about the differences he and Sen. McCain had between them. He speaks of when the two of them would meet in the Oval Office just to chat, “about policy . . . and about family.”

He tells us that even though the two of them held profoundly different world views that they both understood that “we are on the same team.”

I want to bring this to your attention yet again just to remind us all of what is missing in today’s discourse. The current president and many of our congressional leaders cannot seem to accept that they, too, are supposed to be on the same team. Have you heard Donald J. Trump say anything remotely like that? Or, for that matter, have you heard it from many of his foes on Capitol Hill?

The poison that has infected the current climate needs to be cleansed, wiped away. Will it disappear any time soon? Not likely.

I just hope there’s a residual sense of what Barack Obama recalled about John McCain left that it can someday be revived and returned.

Civility needs a boost after hours

I have taken my share of shots at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the years. I dislike the Republican’s obstructionism, his policies, the way he runs the Senate, his partisanship … whatever.

However, he did not deserve to be harangued, harassed and hassled while he was dining with his wife in a Louisville, Ky., restaurant.

In the name of political civility, why cannot we let these public officials — even those in leadership positions — enjoy some private time with their loved ones?

McConnell was called a “traitor.” Other diners clapped. Yet another bystander reportedly grabbed the senator’s to-go box and dumped its contents on the sidewalk.

This kind of thing has been happening of late. I find it unacceptable.

Keep it civil

Look, I’ve been railing against the lack of civility in our public discourse. This kind of activity against congressional leaders — mostly against Republican leaders — runs totally counter to those of us out here who bemoan this uncivil behavior.

I will post this commentary on my blog, which then will appear on social media platforms. Some friends of mine — notably those on the left/progressive side — are going to take umbrage at my comments.

They might say that “this is war” in the current public political debate. To which I’ll respond: No … it isn’t “war”; those of us who’ve been to war know the difference between the real thing and a political disagreement.

Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, did not deserve to be treated so shabbily. If we are going to lament the lack of civility in our current political climate, then many of us need to start behaving in a manner that promotes it.

I will keep calling for a more civil discussion for as long as I am able. What happened to Sen. McConnell and his wife is counterproductive in the extreme.

Those who want change in Washington can act in a different manner. They can vote.

What? No fisticuffs between Beto and Cruz?

It’s likely a good thing that Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz probably won’t be debating any more before the midterm election.

I fear the two men might come to blows during the next joint appearance.

They met Tuesday night in San Antonio and sparred vigorously over guns, immigration, the economy and truth-telling.

O’Rourke is the Democrat who’s challenging the Republican incumbent Cruz for the senator’s seat. It has drawn national attention to a state where this contest is supposed to be a shoo-in for the GOP candidate in deep-red Texas.

This kind of increasing tension between debate contestants is hardly unprecedented. Let’s harken back to the landmark TV debates between two presidential candidates.

In 1960, Sen. John Kennedy faced off against Vice President Richard Nixon. Everyone talks about that first encounter, the one that featured the tanned and fit JFK and the wan and sickly vice president. Nixon “won” the debate to those who heard it on the radio, but Kennedy scored huge with those who saw it on TV.

What few historians ever mention is that the two men faced off twice more and got far more aggressive with each successive debate.

Cruz and O’Rourke managed to maintain a tone of civility in their first debate this past month in Dallas. Much of it vanished in the Alamo City.

This is possibly the final encounter between the Republican and the Democrat. It’s just as well.

Whatever. I’m more than ready to cast my vote in that race. I’m still planning to back Beto O’Rourke.

Keep it civil, Hillary

I have been on a mission quest for more political civility. It won’t end any time soon. I now want to issue some advice to a woman who should have won the 2016 presidential election, but who got the surprise of her political life.

Hillary Rodham Clinton needs an attitude check.

Clinton has told interviewers the time for civil public debate will occur when and if Democrats win control of Congress after next month’s midterm election. Until then? All bets are off, she says.

Republicans only understand “strength,” she said. She said Democrats cannot deal with a political party that won’t adhere to a code of civil discourse and debate.

The only option, according to the World of Hillary, is to take the fight straight to the GOP. Hit them as hard as they hit you, she said.

C’mon, Mme. Secretary/former senator/former first lady! 

That kind of attitude only begets more anger. It is unbecoming of someone who had my vote in 2016. Just for the record, I don’t regret for one second — or an instant! — casting my presidential vote for Hillary Clinton.

My hope is that we can return sooner rather than later to a time when Democrats and Republicans can work together, rather than at cross purposes. I want a return to an era when Republican lawmakers, such as the late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, locked arms with Democratic presidents, such as the late Lyndon Johnson. Or when Democratic lawmakers, such as the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, did the same with Republican presidents, such as George W. Bush.

Dirksen and Johnson helped forge the Voting Rights and Civil Rights acts; Kennedy and Bush helped formulate sweeping education reform.

These days, the two sides lob grenades at each other from a distance. That is not in the interest of good government.

I remain a bit of an idealist on this, but I believe one of the political parties can set the example for the other one to follow. If Hillary is right, that the GOP only understands “strength,” the remedy could be to show the other side an ability and willingness to bridge the great divide.

Wake up, Congress, to greater civility

Ted Cruz believes this past week’s shooting at a baseball practice that wounded several of his fellow Republicans should be a “wake up call” for members of Congress.

The Texas U.S. senator is right, of course. He almost seems to state the obvious, that the tenor and tone of current political discussion has been filled with too much poison.

Five people were hurt in Alexandria, Va., while practicing for Congress’ annual charity baseball game. The shooter was angry at Donald J. Trump and, apparently, at GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who was wounded by a rifle shot from the gunman. Scalise’s condition is improving and for that we all are grateful.

The gunman died in a shootout with police.

“We may disagree on whether the federal government should have a simple flat tax or a massively confiscatory federal income tax, but those differences should not lead to demonization, vilification and personal attacks,” Cruz said in remarks to supporters.

But that’s what we’ve been hearing. It goes back many years. It’s been a bipartisan mantra. Democrats and Republicans point at each other across the aisle on Capitol Hill and question each other’s motives for whatever it is they seek to accomplish.

Politics used to be a noble calling. That’s not the case these days. It has become a contact sport. Some suggest politics has turned into a blood sport.

The dips*** shooter in Alexandria exemplified the danger of letting our emotions get the better of us.

Civility, good will come back to life


Take a good look at this picture.

It is fast becoming my favorite image from this year’s election campaign.

You know who they are: former President George W. Bush and first lady Michelle Obama. They were attending the dedication today of the African-American museum in Washington, D.C., an exhibit that tells the comprehensive story of the African-American experience in this nation.

Presidents Obama was the keynote speaker today and he took time to heap plenty of praise on the work that President Bush (whose wife, Laura, also attended the ceremony) did to make this important exhibit a reality.

There’s something quite gratifying in seeing this image, of Michelle Obama embracing her husband’s immediate predecessor as president.

It’s also interesting — to me, at least — that the image was snapped by David Hume Kennerly, who happened to be the official White House photographer during President Ford’s administration. You see, Gerald Ford served at a time when Republicans and Democrats fairly routinely worked together to solve national problems.

We’ll soon relegate this image to the back of our memories as we proceed toward the end of this contentious election campaign.

I thought I’d share it here just as a reminder that civility, good will and good manners occasionally present themselves.

Lack of civility seems to be contagious


A buddy of mine has offered this timely and relevant nugget of wisdom, which I am sharing here.

“If you have children, please teach them that ‘you’re welcome’ is the correct response to ‘thank you.’ And that ‘no problem’ is a phrase that can go just away. I realize that there are more pressing concerns in the world, but the decline of civility, and basic functional English phrases that have endured for centuries, gives me a sad.”

The fellow who posted this on social media is a friend and former colleague of mine at the Amarillo Globe-News. He’s since moved away.

His social media post is so very true that I wanted to pass it along to my own network of friends, acquaintances and readers of this blog.

I get the “no problem” response constantly during my travels through our city. The more I hear it, the more annoyed I become.

I haven’t lashed out at a young’n for saying it … at least not yet. That doesn’t mean I won’t some day.

If you catch me on a bad day, I’m likely to strike back. For example, I once walked into a coffee shop here in town and was treated with what I only can describe as extraordinary rudeness. The young man who took my drink order was having a bad morning; he wouldn’t look me in the eye when I gave him my order; when he handed it to me, he did so while looking the other way and bitching at a colleague of his about the lack of something-or-other behind the counter.

I wrote the manager of said coffee shop, registered my complaint — and the place made a good-faith effort to make it up to me.

Perhaps it was a sign of the “lack of civility” that my friend mentioned. We’ve bemoaned the lack of civility in the halls of power, be they in Washington or Austin or perhaps of late even at Amarillo City Hall.

His post reminds me of something U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, told me many years ago. He lays down several rules for his congressional interns to follow when they go to work at his office.

One of them is to “Call your mother” regularly. Another of them is to say “You’re welcome” when a constituent thanks them for helping with an issue that needs a resolution. “No problem” doesn’t cut it in Thornberry’s office.

Nor with me … or my old pal.