, ,

Post-Dispatch columnist, Bill McClellan, has given up on bi-partisanship. In his own quirky, good humored way, he concedes that we are a house divided and that maybe we need to take Texas Gov. Rick Perry up on his notion of secession and let the other Southern states follow suit.

He had thought Obama’s hope of uniting us would change the political picture, but on inauguration day, he tuned in to Rush Limbaugh and realized his mistake:

[Rush] was outraged, of course, and the target of his outrage was the Rev. Joseph Lowery, whose benediction had included a riff about a day when “black will not be asked to get back … and white will embrace what is right.” That riff brought forth a vein-popping fury that I found chilling – 50,000 watts of hate pulsating out of One Memorial Drive in downtown St. Louis. And not just St. Louis, and not just Limbaugh, and not just at that moment. Different cities, different times, different people, but all with variations on the same theme.

You can’t blame this all on the conservatives. Had McCain won, the left would have been pouring hate on Sarah Palin. You can’t blame the radio stations. Sex sells and hate sells, and you can’t do sex on the radio.

McClellan tries to live and let live, so he sees the two nations that might result this way:

I’m hopeful (that’s my nature) that we can remain on good terms even though we will be very different countries. We’ll have health care reform with a role for government, and you’ll have rugged individualism. You can pass a Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, and we’ll muddle along without one. (I’m celebrating my 30th anniversary this December.) You can make English your official language, and we’ll put up with a babble of voices. You can teach creationism or intelligent design in your schools, and we’ll teach evolution. You can deregulate the bankers and regulate the scientists, and we’ll regulate the bankers and deregulate the scientists. You’ll have Memphis and Dallas, and we’ll have New York and San Francisco. With unfettered scientists and Silicon Valley, we’ll have medical research and computer sciences, but you’ll have great barbecue and Tex-Mex. Hey, I’ll keep my passport current.

I suppose it’s curmudgeonly of me to light into McClellan for his vision of an amicable divorce. After all, he’s just trying to jolly people into getting along, without laying excessive blame on either party. But like so many journalists, McClellan considers a false equivalence to be the same as balanced objectivity. Me, I think you can’t equate right wing fury with left wing temper. I have to agree instead–full disclosure, here: I am a left winger, therefore biased–with Leonard Pitts that the ire and rancor on the left is but a pale imitation of the rage and malice from the right. Pitts describes, for example, an analysis from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Terror From the Right” is a listing of bombers, killers, would-be assassins and insurrectionists motivated by anger over abortion, gays, taxes, blacks, Muslims and illegal immigrants.

Which raises an obvious fair and balanced question: What about terror from the left? The SPLC’s Mark Potok says left-wing terror essentially means eco-terrorists, e.g., animal rights extremists. The death toll from their work, he says, is zero.

By contrast, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people because he was angry at the government, brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams shot two men to death for being gay, James Kopp killed Dr. Barnett Slepian for being an abortion provider, and dozens of other men have been indicted for dozens of other plots to kill thousands of other people with whom they had political disagreements.

It’s one thing to read these stories in isolation and another to see them collected, and thereby connected, here, one extremist plot after another in the 14 years since Oklahoma City. It gives you a sense that – apologies to Buffalo Springfield – there’s something happening here and what it is is all too clear. The report provides troubling context for the outrageous behavior that has attended the election of our first African-American president.

And if hate characterizes the right more than the left, so does fear. We’re entering a new McCarthy era, with accusations of communism and socialism bandied about without proof to scare the livin’ bejeebus out of anybody gullible enough to listen.

So, yes, Bill, I do despise Sarah Palin.  There have been times when I could enjoy her antics, figuring who needs Tina Fey when you can laugh at the real McCoy. But then Palin lied about death panels and ceased to be cute in any way. Her callous disregard for the truth, if it succeeded in deep sixing health care reform, would end up keeping tens of millions of us from getting health care. Call me cranky, but stuff like that annoys me.

In fact, anger is the only normal response sometimes.

Civil discourse is fine, but when the other side is fighting dirty, you should get angry. Don’t let the bully kick sand in your face. The White House should have impaled death panel malarkey as soon as it came up.

By the time the president got feisty in a speech on Monday, the inmates had taken over cable TV, much like the spooky spirits swarming up over Bald Mountain in “Fantasia.”

As far as I’m concerned, right wingers are mad as hell and they’re not going to take their meds anymore. And that scares me. I’m grateful that I decided to pick a screen name when we started this blog, because the right is getting uglier by the day.