Eye of Newt, …

…and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

In 1981, I took a political science class and the professor said that the Presidency had an aura about it. Regardless of what people thought of the person, when he walked in the room, there was respect. Or, in the case of FDR, reporters and bystanders suddenly became interested in their fingernails when Roosevelt had to be lifted out of his car.

I expect that professor, if still teaching, no longer feels there is a respect for the office. That was completely abandoned when President Obama took office thanks in a large part to the entertainment channel that is Fox”News” and the rest of the wrong-wing media.

The stories are legendary of the five o’clock quitting time when the DC battles would cease and everyone went out for a beer. Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill would wrestle during the day, reach a compromise (revisionists have conveniently forgotten that Reagan compromised all the time…and raised taxes seven of his eight years), then draw down to a civil level…only to go back at it the next day. And while Reagan’s ideology and sniping started the great divide, when terrorists blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 241, O’Neill had one – one – committee investigate to find out what happened. Current Speaker Boehner is spending millions in government funds indiscriminately to “investigate” yet again something that has been asked and answered: Benghazi, where 4 people tragically lost their lives.

Irrelevants like Sarah Palin are stumping for impeachment over an unprecedented number of children trying to come to the U.S. Either that, or it’s Benghazi she wants impeachment for – she can’t seem to make up her…um, mind. Folks on that bandwagon clearly don’t understand “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Now, when Reagan first sold arms to the very country that took 44 Americans hostage for 444 days (bad enough that) and was under an arms-embargo, and then gave the money to the Nicaraguan Contras, in defiance of a Congressional prohibition against further funding of the Contras … that should have been an impeachable (and likely convictable) action. Instead, Senator Daniel Inouye chaired a civilized committee that investigated the affair.

Bill Clinton originally worked (in secret and at length) with Newt Gingrich to try to fix Social Security and Medicare, but once Clinton’s affair became public… well, Gingrich accelerated the country down the road of no consensus and somehow managed to turn a personal indiscretion – a character flaw to be sure, and one of which Gingrich knew intimately – into an impeachable offense? Of course, when Gingrich had his affairs, that must have been different. Selling arms to the enemy and then defying Congress is not impeachable, but lying about a dalliance was… And the swept under the rug thing is in addition to wanting to fix Medicare, always the opportunist Gingrich was in favor of health insurance mandates…until he wasn’t.

It’s no secret that I consider George W. Bush to be the worst president since Reagan, and in some cases worse than Reagan, but as an officer in the Navy with him as my Commander in Chief, I respected the office and by extension, him. When I see sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines, enlisted and officers alike, disrespecting President Obama…disrespecting the Presidency…I want them discharged or to submit their resignations …they are unfit to wear the uniform, regardless of how many years of service.

And when Bush was president, I remember any dissent raised cries of “Treason!” Today? If you can stomach it for more than 30 seconds, watch MockNews or listen to Limbaugh and you’ll see not only no respect, but vile, despicable disrespect. Saturday Night Live has lampooned every president since Ford, but even then it is mostly tasteful comedy. The Wrong-wing media have dropped all pretensions of civility and are certainly not comedy.

Dissent is necessary regardless of who is in power – we need it to consider all sides to an argument. The Bush administration and their media arm Fox were so afraid that someone would pull back the curtain that they threw out accusations willy-nilly. After all, “if you’re not with us…” I wonder if anyone bothered to clue them in to their false dichotomy?

Governors point fingers at and (more recently) refuse to greet the President, nutjobs still demand birth certificates (Reagan never had one until after he left office), a Congressman shouts out during an address to a joint session of Congress, Boehner refuses a Presidential request to address Congress. President Obama sure has a lot of “firsts” under his belt. And yet, he still ran for a second term and he still serves. The man might just have the thickest skin of anyone who sat in the Oval Office.

Disrespect is unacceptable, even if the office holder lies to the country about an affair or lies about any reason at all – or no reason – to invade Iraq. Whoever the next president is, I will certainly respect her, and even if the Kochs manage to buy a President in the future, I will continue to respect the office and the person who holds it, even if I dislike that person.

Reagan started the ball rolling on incivility, and Newt knocked it into the next century. I mean today’s “next century”, because I don’t know if I or my grandchildren will see a return.


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