Dear Mr. President,
We hear you’re concerned with the lack of civility and mutual respect in the current political landscape. That’s nice. So are we.
You are disturbed by people saying “that all of government is inherently bad.” We are too, or we would be, if we heard someone say it, which we have not.
There are things government should do and does well, and others it screws up and shouldn’t do anyhow (making health care arrangements for a country of 300 million just might be one of them, along with trying to engineer outcomes and classifying people by race). This is not “all” of government, and you shouldn’t be trying to say so.
You say insufficient regulation of banks caused the crash, but also you ought to say it was bad government policy, if well intended, and that when the president asked for more government oversight, you were one of those voting against it. If you want to be civil, you might try telling the truth, and the whole truth, not what makes you look better. Only a thought.
You say “listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship,” and we agree. But we wonder what you had in mind last year when you tried to attack, marginalize and possibly silence a number of commentators, along with the network Fox News.
There are several networks that are openly slanted, and more that are and don’t say so, but the one you called “illegitimate” is the only one that slanted against your direction. Where would your friends find these opposing views, if these voices were silenced? And did you think about that?
If you wanted respect and civility, you might have spoken to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or whoever came up with the idea to march the Black Caucus through a tea party protest, and then have the members say they were hit with the “n-word,” a claim for which no proof exists.
You complain that “government is spoken of as some foreign, menacing, threatening entity,” ignoring the fact that you made not the slightest show of pretending to listen when voters in swing states like Virginia and blue states like New Jersey and Massachusetts registered their distaste with the way you were governing.
You say that “in our democracy, government is us,” and you ignored us when “us” was more than half of the public, and every poll and every election was screaming we didn’t want your agenda enacted, as it was.
You didn’t think it was “us.” You thought it was you, and you let us know it. You used a loophole to ram the Senate health care bill through the House, when it was clear that it violated the popular will and the intent of the Founders, which was that critical bills should be passed by a supermajority.
You defied “us” every step of the way, and you reveled in doing so, allowing your leadership to rub it in later. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that you sneered at the rallies on Tax Day, and dared the people who want health care repealed to “go for it!” to a howling, partisan crowd?
What brought on your sudden conversion to the banner of tolerance? Was it polls showing you did not get the bounce that you wanted, and that the anger you roused could kneecap your agenda? Was it then that you realized that “anger” was dangerous?
We hardly blame you. In your shoes, we’d be wary too.
It was “you,” and not “us,” and did you ever let us know it. Perhaps in November, it will be “us” again.
Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”