The Unbearable Lightness of Vitriol


Ever since President Barack H. Obama (D-Chi) traveled to Tucson, AZ to heal a troubled land, pundits have studied the Republican Party, wondering when that seething morass of hatred and invective will erupt again in partisan vitriol. Early indications are not promising. It is a pity that conservatives are so consumed with hatred and racist rage that Obama’s words of truth, beauty and wisdom have fallen on fallow ground.

He had so much to offer a wounded nation. Though Tea Partiers continue to spew hatred, at least one person was ready and able to respond to the President’s healing touch. Representative Gabrielle Giffords had not regained consciousness after being shot four days earlier. She lay in a coma until the President arrived.

But let us allow him to tell it in his own words, because, as everyone knows, words are what he does best. “Right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room . . . Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes so I can tell you, she knows we are here.”

So don’t tell me about loaves and fishes. Water into wine? Fuggedaboudit. At the very least we’re talking Lazarus here. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. Obama was inaugurated with echoes of Lincoln and Roosevelt coursing through the land, and in two short years he has elevated his game, to borrow some hoops lingo, to performing miracles worthy of Jesus Christ himself. And to think there were those who feared He couldn’t learn on the job.

Yet even Obama’s wise words and appeals to calm and cooperation may not be equal to the Hate Fest about to be unleashed on Capital Hill. Having postponed it for a week, the newly ascendant Republicans are planning to follow through with their meaningless, futile, needlessly confrontational attempt to repeal health care. As if killing hundreds of thousands of hapless Americans isn’t enough, as insightful left-leaning analysts and Representatives have warned will happen, in a shocking display of insensitivity, GOP leaders continue to refer to health care as “that jobs-killing bill.”

As that paragon of temperance, Keith Olbermann might sputter, “Have you no shame, sir?”

Republicans continue to repeat the canard that they are only doing what they were elected to do. They claim to be doing the people’s will, yet they refuse to listen to them. Take for instance a recent  Associated Press story, reporting that  new polls show a groundswell of support for health care. Forty percent support it, the reporter cooed, compared to “just 41% who are opposed.” How the GOP can continue their opposition in the face of such a landslide is beyond belief.

Then this morning, in a front page news story in the local rag, the reporter, Todd Spangler, discusses the role Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton expect to play. “They will help lead arguments to roll back legislation they say – despite some nonpartisan reports to the contrary – will run up the federal deficit and cost jobs.” Aside from the sentence’s awkwardness, this is excellent journalism, and don’t let anybody tell you this is an opinion piece masquerading as news. Opinion pieces have their own rules. In opinion pieces you can make wild claims without even attempting to back them up. It is, after all, your opinion. You can bandy about claims of “some nonpartisan reports” without bothering to identify them. That’s the luxury of opinion pieces. A true journalist would never get away with that. He would never even try.

The only exception to this rule comes when discussing the repeal of Obamacare. Then it is as important to insert a refutation of every Republican claim into the body of the story, otherwise you won’t be able to move public opinion in favor of the legislation. This is, of course, as integral part of a journalist’s job as repeating “May peace be upon him” whenever mentioning the name of the most exalted one, Barack H. Obama.

Obama hath spoken, and the willful, the hateful and the Republican hath failed to heed his word. Over the next few days the House of Representatives will hold the hearings which should have been held before Obamacare passed. They will highlight and illuminate the deleterious consequences of the legislation. Only a select few Americans, those who want to know the truth and are willing to search for it, will learn the details of this debate.

The rest, the Reality-TV-and-Katie-Couric-watching Americans, will only see reporters slapping their heads in anguish, and bewailing the fact that the Republicans are ignoring Obama’s noble appeal: “But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that — that heals, not in a way that wounds.”