fresh voices from the front lines of change







President Obama took an unusual public stand against the behavior of Republican rank and file this week-end when he condemned their behavior at the debates:

“Some of you here may be folks who actually used to be Republicans but are puzzled by what’s happened to that party, are puzzled by what’s happening to that party. I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change,” he said, to applause. “It’s true. You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay.” “That’s not reflective of who we are,” he added. “This is a choice about the fundamental direction of our country. 2008 was an important direction. 2012 is a more important election.”

I think it’s perfectly fair to condemn these people who do this — and those who fail to speak up against these attitudes. It’s a fundamental clash of values and it’s worth fighting about.

In 2008, John McCain (to his rare credit in that race) took people to task when they behaved like cretins. And both Huntsman and Johnson did that with respect to the booing of the soldier, as did Santorum belatedly. But neither of the frontrunners or Ron Paul or Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachman have spoken out.

I suppose that’s par for the course on the issue of letting the uninsured die and executions of the innocent.We have seen evidence of this attitude over and over and over again. I’m honestly not sure why anyone is surprised after seeing things like this:

These aren’t exactly compassionate people. (Even the kids. And certainly not their most powerful voices.)

But booing soldiers, gay or not, is slaying one of their sacred cows in a way that exposes the hollowness of their own rhetoric about what defines conservatism. These are people after all, who claimed that you couldn’t criticize an Army general in public, even when he was playing a blatantly partisan role. (Indeed, some people were making the argument this past week that Democrats criticizing Bush as Commander in Chief was equivalent to booing an active duty soldier in Iraq….)

It’s a free country and people can boo whomever they want without legal sanction. But these people have made a fetish of support for the military to point where one cannot even make mild jokes about it, much less criticize it on anything substantive. But they have shown what really matters to them with this one. And it isn’t the troops.

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