Friday, August 26, 2016

Presidential insults; what else is new?

One of the most intriguing parts of the museum and library in Springfield, Ill., devoted to Abraham Lincoln is the exhibit showing samples of all the hostile rhetoric used to denigrate “Honest Abe” back when he was alive.
OBAMA: Would he let insults stop him?
With such harsh and hostile sentiments existing about the man, it’s no wonder his election resulted in people taking up arms against the nation – something that has not happened in recent years even though there are people who detest the very concept of “President Barack Obama.”

THERE HAVE BEEN so many slurs uttered by so many people of varying beliefs about Obama that I honestly have lost track of them. And it’s not just the conservative ideologues – let’s not forget the many Latino activists who voted for him but refer to him as the “deporter-in-chief” because of his inability to change the federal policies that have resulted in many individuals being removed from this country.

It is in that context that I have to admit to not getting so worked up over the recent wisecrack by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who referred to Obama as the “drug dealer in chief.”

It was Kirk’s attempt to criticize the dealings our federal government under Obama has had with Iran, while also trying to appeal to the hard-core ideologues who otherwise might think Kirk is too wimpy to represent their interests.
KIRK: Merely the latest of trash-talkers
People who likely would be happier if a Trump-like person (as in spewing rhetorical nonsense about so many issues) were on the Republican ticket for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.

KIRK’S CHALLENGER, DEMOCRAT Tammy Duckworth (herself a member of Congress from the northwest suburbs) has said such trash talk is unbecoming a U.S. senator. Yet there are times when I wonder if the standards for political talk have declined so much that the idea of something being unbecoming is a quaint concept.

For the record, Kirk refused to apologize during a candidate forum in Normal, Ill., on Wednesday. I suspect if he had been apologetic, the crowd would have turned on him something fierce.
LINCOLN: What president hasn't been insulted?

As though he was better off keeping his mouth shut and not causing even more damage for himself. Because we're in an era where such hostility is what passes for political talk -- why else would we take Donald Trump seriously?

Which is why I can’t get too worked up. I don’t doubt that Kirk is representing a viewpoint held by a certain segment of society – and he wants their votes. Because it’s pretty clear that the kind of people who oppose such a viewpoint will never vote for him come Election Day.

BESIDES, I COULDN’T help but notice an e-mail message I received Thursday from the Duckworth campaign. She wants to make sure we know just how offensive she thinks Kirk’s comments were. “Illinois deserves better than a senator who employs such extreme, offensive rhetoric,” her political director, Cameron Joost, wrote.

Of course, Joost then got to the point of the e-mail – the Duckworth campaign wants my money.

In fact, the e-mail was set up in such a way that I could just click on a link and make a campaign contribution. Show my outrage by kicking in a few bucks that can add up into a significant amount of money to support her election bid.

Somehow, the appeal for campaign cash comes off as just a bit crass. I have a feeling similar to that of “Ralphie” in “A Christmas Story” when he realized his newly-acquired Little Orphan Annie decoder ring was just a means of sending messages advertising Ovaltine.

“A CRUMMY COMMERCIAL!,” he said, before uttering an epithet that would have got many of us a bar of soap in our mouths from our mothers.

So much for the noble appeal to our higher ideals. Not one likely to get me to reach into my wallet, because like I’ve said before hostile political rhetoric is oh, so common. If Obama is a big boy, he can take it.

Besides, the kind of people who indulge in such trash talk wind up invariably hurting themselves my coming off as so lowbrow.

And in the end will come off making those people look as ridiculous as those who tried to label Lincoln as, “Abraham Africanus the First.”


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