Thursday, January 13, 2011


I watched a documentary yesterday called "The Lottery". It's about the Harlem Success charter school; it followed the stories of four families hoping to get chosen in the lottery to get their kids into the school. It also talked about the other failing schools in Harlem and the extreme opposition to the successful charter schools there. In the end, only one of the children was chosen in the lottery, although another one stayed on the wait list and was the last one admitted when others backed out. The whole thing made me cry. So heart-breaking.

I share all this only to explain why I haven't watched this speech that President Obama made yesterday. I seem to be kind of emotional lately, and I'm afraid it'll make me cry. Just the thought of this little girl who was killed last Saturday almost does me in. I have seen sound bites, and I've read quotes. It sounds like it was a good speech.

And it sounds like he was saying was I've been saying all year. Politics has got to stop being so ugly and personal. I know, it's probably always been this way. But this is why so many people hate politics.

I was glad to hear him state emphatically that no person's rhetoric was responsible for the deaths that happened last Saturday. Because that's so clearly true now. I'm kind of tired of hearing Sarah Palin's map with the bull's-eyes on it being touted as hate speech. Sarah Palin or any ugliness coming out of her mouth or her web presences were not at fault here.

That said, I don't like Sarah Palin's rhetoric. I've said this before. I may agree with her general stance on a lot of issues, but I don't want to ever have to vote for her for public office. (Even those issues I agree with her on, I'm not sure I trust her to handle. O'Reilly asked her once about the illegal immigration problem -- her answer was they need to be sent back home. He pushed her, saying, exactly how are we supposed to do that with millions of people? "Well, we don't give them amnesty, that's for sure." So, what DO we do, Mrs. Palin? I was not impressed.)

Palin doesn't talk like a public servant. She doesn't even talk like a pundit. She talks like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin -- all of whom I have a hard time listening to anymore. She ridicules and belittles the other side. I'm less disturbed by what Palin's rhetoric may have brought out in Jared Loughner -- I'm more disturbed by what it brings out in Sarah Palin.

I remember hearing once that if you intend to argue against something, you must argue against the best of that something. Every idea has its strong and weak points. If you only attack the weak areas around the edges of an idea, not only do you look like a wimp, but your attacks are futile. You must address the idea in its strength. Which requires you to have the guts to admit that the idea has some strengths.

And if we're honest, most ideas that have stood the test of time have some strengths, or they'd have died long ago. They may be missing a piece of the picture . . . they may rely on faulty assumptions . . . but somewhere there's a kernel of truth that needs to be acknowledged. It seems to me that those who are unable or unwilling to look for the best in their opponent's position cannot argue against their opponent's position or effectively support their own position.

And they certainly shouldn't be running the country.

No comments: