Posts Tagged ‘politicians’

“Pelosi is a nice lady,” Fox News is “biased”: A Niebuhr award to Sen. Tom Coburn

April 14, 2010

Many Americans yearn for a return to civility in our political life. We’re saddened by politicians of all stripes demonizing people they disagree with, and even demonizing people they agree with when there’s a political edge to be gained. This column has long admired the political philosophy of Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

This week Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) raised the temper and integrity of the political fight at a town meeting with his Oklahoma constituents. When a woman complained bitterly that the IRS was going to put people in prison for not purchasing health insurance, Coburn rebuked her:

“That makes for good TV news on Fox, but that isn’t the intention. I’m disturbed that we get things like what this lady said and others have said on other issues that are so disconnected from what I know to be fact. (more…)

Can the center hold? Can America be governed?

February 21, 2010

Sunday, time for poetry. From Irish poet William Butler Yeats(1865-1939)

THE SECOND COMING

…Things fall apart; the
centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed

upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide
is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of
innocence is drowned;

The best lack all
conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate
intensity…

We’ve written here about the destructive effect of gerrymandering in California, where every legislative seat is safe for the incumbent party: challenge can only come from within the incumbent’s own party. What’s true in California is true for the nation. The respected Cook Political Report sets the number of competitive seats at 50 out of a total of 435. The other 385 members are immune from an attack from the opposite party. Republicans need only appeal to the extreme right to get another term, while Democrats need only appeal to the extreme left.

As a result, “the people’s business is not being done,” to quote retiring Senator Evan Bayh. Our representatives in Washington are failing us, not only politically, but ethically as well. They promised to carry out the people’s business, but they are choosing to look first to their own job security. Non-partisan redrawing of district boundaries, as in Iowa and as proposed for California, would solve the problem, but that’s a long way off.

But in the meantime was Yeats right? Can the center hold? Not as long as the best lack all conviction. If you’re in the center you need a large dose of passionate intensity. And so do our centrist politicians—especially those in “safe” seats. And our President.


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