Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Take the kooks, please

Just over a year ago, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony celebrating the peaceful transfer of power of the executive office of the United States.

My oldest daughter and I trekked down to the nation's capitol and watched the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. You could feel something in the air. The change the country had voted for was about to be unleashed.

Fast forward to this morning. Groundhog Day. And that's exactly what it feels like. Same old. Same old. Or SSDD as some might say.

One year later and we're still at war with the world. No end in sight. The economy is still in the tank. No end in sight. We still have children dying every day due to an in adequate health care system. No end in sight. And we still have bickering from simpletons who make school kids look like adults by comparison.

Now I'll be honest, I didn't really expect the world to change in a year. And I kind of felt bad for those that did. For the most part, I think they were political newcomers, unfamiliar with the way government works … or in most cases, doesn't. But it's disheartening nonetheless.

More disheartening to me, though, than the failure of our new president to fix everything including the kitchen sink over the course of the last 12 months, is the return of the vitriol from the radical right wing of this country. For eight years I listened to these kooks blame President Bill Clinton for everything from Waco to the potholes on their suburban streets. The man could do no right.

And the (s)election of George W. Bush in 2000 brought out the kooks on the other side. The crazy left didn't cut our 43rd president any breaks either. Continuing with my honesty, I was among them at first. I felt the fiasco in Florida had tainted the presidency and his actions in office didn't match his rhetoric on the campaign trail. But I mellowed over time and grew to appreciate some things about our last president.

But in those days when I was overwhelmingly outspoken against George W. Bush, I got letters and emails and regular phone calls from the right-wingers telling me I had to respect the presidency. I had to shut up and play along, they said, cause no matter whether I liked the man or not, he was president and deserved my respect.

Once we went to war, their rhetoric changed. I had to respect him because we were at war. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “You can't criticize the president in a time of war,” I could retire comfortably. It was a new rule to me. I'm pretty familiar with the Constitution. I don't recall that addendum to the First Amendment.

Apparently, cause there's an addendum to the addendum. You can't criticize their guy in a time of war. And you have to respect their president. But if someone they don't like should happen to take office, all bets are off.

Now I've said repeatedly, I'm underwhelmed by President Obama. But that doesn't make the hateful rhetoric of the radical right okay. Honestly, they should be ashamed of themselves. They're not patriots. They're zealots. And they're giving the rest of us a bad name.

Last week I made fun of “the tea-baggers of the world.” What started out as a group to protest high taxes and non-partisan government apathy has turned into a right-wing riot waiting to happen. These are the zealots of which I speak. For most of them Republicans can do no wrong and Democrats can do no right.

I'm all for throwing the Democrats out of Congress. But take the Republicans with them. And while we're doing some house cleaning, take the kooks I keep having to watch, listen to and read. I don't know where to put them, but take them somewhere. Please.

In November, we get a chance to start over. Let's only have Groundhog Day once this year.