You know what I love? Vigorous-but-civil disagreement about the issues of the day. Which is why I’m a fan of this note I received over the weekend from Greg Thompson in South Carolina:
I really do appreciate Greg’s civility in his note, and given that I opened my part of the column by calling the tea parties a display of “sore loserdom,” that’s probably far more civility than I was actually owed.
There are three legs to my feelings about the tea parties, two of which I’ve explored and one of which I’ve not said much about publicly.
Those three legs:
• RHETORICAL: Sorry, but there was a lot of douchebagginess on display at the tea parties. Lots of it. And I just hate that kind of stuff. I hate it from my side, too: I’ve never run with the Kos crowd or Firedoglake because shrillness seems (to me) to be their stock in trade. I don’t watch Olbermann and can only occasionally watch Rachel Maddow. (Her dialogue with Ana Marie Cox about “teabagging” was painful for me to view.) If I hate that stuff from liberals, you can imagine how I feel about it when it comes from conservatives.
I know. I’m a delicate, wilting flower.
• POLITICAL: That’s mostly what my post-slash-column contribution were about. I get cranky about hypocrisy and I’m not wrong that many of the folks trying to whip up a frenzy right now were pretty quiet about similar sins during the Bush Era.
• POLICY: There were a lot of topics thrown in the pot of the protests, so I’m not going to say the protesters, broadly, have a point. However….
…when it comes to debt: They have a point.
I don’t like that how deeply we’re plunging into the debt hole. I think a short-term case can be made for it, but it appears we’re returning to an era of blithely running deficits, big ones, as the usual course of business. And if the current meltdown is teaching us anything, it’s this: Debt as a way of life is unsustainable. And expecting to grow your way out of debt is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps I need to be louder about this. (And perhaps it makes my criticism of the tea parties unfair; I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.) I do think I’m on record about being ambivalent, at best, about this stuff. It’s kind of silly to continually shout one’s ambivalence to the heavens, however, which is one reason I refrain. Nobody wants to read the Hamlet shtick.