I was fortunate enough to receive one of the few civilian tickets to President Obama’s stop at Elmendorf Air Force Base today. Once again, it proved to be a moving speech by our commander-in-chief, with respect and honor of our military and a vow of unquestionable resolve to continue to support the men and women of our armed forces and their families. Here is the link to the text of the President’s speech. If you consider yourself a patriot you’ll read it.
I also was fortunate enough to be invited to participate on a panel yesterday for the inaugural taping of “Moore up North,” a television talk show hosted by local blogger and radio host Shannyn Moore. Its scheduled to debut this Saturday at 4pm on KYES Channel 5.
At the conclusion of the president’s speech I kept thinking back to yesterday’s videotaping and the first topic before the panel which also included Julie Hasquet, press secretary for Sen. Mark Begich and Bill Walker, republican candidate for governor.
The issue was the loss of civility in the public discourse in Alaska and the rest of the country. In regard to our president, its reflected in the dialogue, if you can call it that, that we hear coming out of those who oppose anything President Obama says or does.
You’ve all heard it: He’s taking away our freedoms. He’s a socialist. He’s a communist. He’s muslim. He wasn’t born here. U.S. Senators and nut-job talk radio hosts root for him to fail. A congressman yells out at the president “you lie!” in the hallowed chamber where decorum is supposed to rule the day. Sean Hannity, on Fox News went so far as to falsify video to make the case for the right-wing arguments against the health care bill. He called it “an inadvertent mistake.” More like a purposeful manipulative lie, and a further example of the erosion of civil discourse. Check it out here. You decide.
The ‘lack of civility’ examples are far and wide, and it comes from both sides. Critics on the left weren’t much better to President Bush. And while I was admittedly no fan of our former president, I refrained from hurling vehement disrespect at him. Though that became more of a challenge, particularly in his second term. I didn’t vote for him but I tried to give him a chance and prayed he would move the country forward in a positive direction. My prayers were never answered, and the mess our country was left with can’t be fixed in a year, or probably in a term.
But conservatives, more appropriately extreme conservatives, have been foaming at the mouth and going after President Obama from the get go. The argument has devolved into a shouting match. Rationale and civility are nowhere in sight.
Anyone who supports the president and/or his policies is painted with the same brush. As he tries to tackle the multiple messes he was left, he is harshly and irrationally criticized for it. His approach has not been much different than Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, or Abraham Lincoln for that matter. Yet few refer to any of those former presidents as socialists who took away our freedoms. In fact, President Obama is disappointing some of his more liberal base because he is not governing as liberally as most of the aforementioned presidents.
After today’s speech, it is evident President Obama is a patriot who loves this country, a red-blooded American whose heart pumps for the red, white, and blue.
There also are assertions of disrespect being leveled at some of our elected officials. Key republican leaders were notably absent at the president's visit and one was reported to have initially refused tickets offered for the event. Giving the benefit of the doubt that these scheduling conflicts were unresolvable, our leaders need to remember they were elected to serve the people, whether they voted for you or not. Paying your respects to the President of the United States on his first ever stop in Alaska should be a priority.
As a state who relies more on federal help than any other state in the union, how wise is it to dis the President of the United States? I don’t begrudge our elected republican leaders for having different policy perspectives, but I challenge them to distance themselves from the prevalent uncivil discourse that is out there and in the future when given the chance, pay tribute and respect to the highest office in the land, and to a man who clearly illustrated in his speech to the troops at Elmendorf today he is an American patriot, the leader of the free world, and worthy to be called our Commander-in-Chief.