“Civil” Discourse?

I was going to pass on this topic, mostly because Wendi Thomas covered it in Thursday’s Commercial Appeal, but I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, and I figured it would be better if I went ahead and wrote something.

Going My Way?

A current co-worker, who also used to be in the news business, made the point to me the other day that it’s sometimes difficult to have an opinion about politics because of the constant responsibility you have as a journalist not to take sides. ASIDE: Let’s remember here that a lot of the prime time boys on Fox News are commentators, not journalists, so they’re actually supposed to have opinions. If you think their news coverage is slanted, I can’t help you there. For those of you about to go apoplectic about how you’re sure CNN and the broadcast networks have a bias to the left, all I can say is that in seven years, no one at CNN ever told me to slant a story. And I know for a fact that a couple of the folks in the political unit were Republicans (and they didn’t slant the other way).

Whatta Mob!

Anyway, I have to wonder about the recent ugly outbursts from people protesting Congressional Democrats. Racial epithets? Homophobic slurs? Spitting? Bricks through office windows? Threats of violence? Calls to “reload” from a former governor and candidate for vice president? There’s nothing wrong with genuine disagreement with a government program, but when it gets ugly, it’s not about health care anymore. There’s something a lot deeper, much more insidious going on here. Where was all the righteous anger when Mr. Bush was blowing through the surplus left over from the Clinton years? When a GOP-controlled White House and Congress supervise a tremendous increase in the deficit over an 8-year period, it’s hard to take people seriously who ignored that, but are so concerned what offering basic health protection will mean to the deficit now. Oh, and it seems they’re completely willing to ignore the projections from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office showing the reform package would reduce the deficit.

Somebody Created a Monster

The GOP leadership in Congress is accusing the Democrats of trying to use the impoliteness for political gain. The opponents of reform have pushed so hard and so long to demonize the reforms and the people who back it that some people were bound to be overswayed. Don’t hook the electrodes to Frankenstein’s neck bolts during a lightning storm, then give us the “who, me?” look when the monster wakes up and terrorizes the village. There’s nothing wrong with opposing a policy. The GOP has a long history of being able to stymie meaningful health care reform in this country, and they came close to doing it again. When the president took office, a majority of Americans agreed that the health care system needed reform. Now, some polls claim a majority of Americans want the just-passed bill repealed. Still, if we truly have “the best health care system in the world,” why are some of us fighting so hard to keep it out of the hands of so many people? If they all end up in the emergency room, we’re going to pay for their care anyway, so why not find a why that gets some of these folks to pay for some of their coverage? And I’ve worked for major corporations that didn’t offer its lowest-paid employees any insurance. That’s just wrong. And if offering coverage is a price of doing business for smaller companies, it may be tougher to turn a profit, but it’s not unreasonable. People working at those businesses could lose everything they have if they get sick or hurt without health insurance, and if a small business doesn’t pay well enough for a worker to pay for their own coverage, do we just give them an apple and hope for the best?

Goodnight, Mr. Culp

Kelly & Scottie

I’m sorry to see reports of the death of Robert Culp. The 79-year old actor and writer died after a fall at his home. I wasn’t old enough to watch his 1950s western, “Trackdown,” or its spinoff show, Steve McQueen’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” I did however, spend a lot of time watching “I Spy.” Culp and Bill Cosby played a couple of really cool dudes who traveled the world, spying for the Defense Department. Unlike “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” which was shot pretty much on the MGM backlot (and looked it), Kelly and Scottie were actually in a lot of the international locations in their stories (sometimes shooting several stories in a country to cover the costs of travel). The show was historic, because it was the first time a black person was a lead character in a network TV show. Two years earlier, Cicely Tyson was a regular, but not a lead on “East Side, West Side,” with George C. Scott.

About a year ago, FamilyNet was replaying “I Spy,” which was cool, since I hadn’t seen an episode in years. I was a much bigger fan of Culp’s work there than on “Greatest American Hero.” Plus, “I Spy” had some really cool theme music, written by Earle Hagen, the same guy who wrote the themes to “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and the “The Andy Griffith Show.”

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