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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Bitter Rhetoric in Politics?

After the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in early January, the media blamed bitter rhetoric in politics even though the shooter was a “nut job.” From television to radio and from newspapers to magazines, today’s political climate was all to blame. Even the Tea Party was demonized because the members had a different political agenda than President Obama or the mainstream media.

Putting aside for now the terrible actions of the Tucson shooter, is bitter rhetoric new? Going back in modern history, 24/7 news on television has highlighted the rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle.

Back in the 1960 campaign there was much bitterness, because John F. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic. The rhetoric was bitter and most of the time behind the scene. Fortunately, by the time John Kerry ran for president, that issue had evaporated.

Then go back to charges that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was “dumb” and even “incoherent.” Now, from my firsthand experience with President Eisenhower in 1964, he was anything but “dumb” or “incoherent.” With only Richard Nixon and me in the room, after an hour-long meeting with Barry Goldwater, President Eisenhower was in charge and very strong in his positions.

Next, look at some of the media’s positions with regard to Ronald Reagan’s alleged Alzheimer’s at the end of his presidency – a charge made by his son, Ron Reagan. Having met with President Reagan in the White House for over an hour in August of 1988, I can tell you he was as sharp as anyone and responded to my questions with clarity and even a little humor.

Then, think about those who said 9/11 was an inside job. Can you imagine how sick some people can be?

Now, take a look at the price of gasoline. Back on 2007 when prices went over $3.00 a gallon during the Bush Administration, the media was all over Bush for failing to come up with an energy policy. As I have said here before, the Congress and the media are full of rhetoric as prices go up – fix the problem. Then, when prices go down, everyone goes to sleep.

Today, as the prices soar over $3.00 a gallon, there is hardly any rhetoric – politics?

Another sad story relates to Glenn Beck. Whether you like him or not, he generally has 15 threats to his life at any given time. That is rhetoric, which has gone too far.

Finally, I go back to Face-Off, my television show when Larry Levy and I had then Senator Hillary Clinton as our guest. In one of my questions, I asked her about bitter rhetoric in politics. That was early in 2007. To her credit, she agreed that the rhetoric had gone too far and even blamed some talk shows where harshness was the approach rather than asking real questions.

While I doubt we will see real change down the road, it would be nice to see both sides of the aisle debate real issues and not use bitter-hearted talk.


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