Respecting the President

As I read various comments or blog posts online I see a number of conservatives who refer to our current president as “Barry.” This is used in the same vein as many liberals used “Dubya” or any of their other derogatory names for the previous president (many of which are not going to be posted here). I do not support such informal and derogatory nicknames for the President Obama and I did not support such terms for President Bush. What Pres. Obama gets called is far milder than what Pres. Bush was (and is) called.

Regardless of what you think of a particular president, the office deserves respect. Even if you do not respect the individual, you should respect the office. Pres. Obama should be referred to as Mr. President (when talking to him, should you ever have that honor) or President Obama (or Pres. Barack Obama); he can also be referred to as “The President”. On Twitter I can understand referring to Pres. Obama as BHO (which, while sometimes used to point out his middle name – Hussein – to try to link him with a certain former Iraqi dictator, is preferable to BO). However, that particular abbreviation should only be used on Twitter (or some similarly character-restricted medium) if your tweet is longer than the character limit and that is the best way to reduce the number of characters.

I know many people will disagree with me but I believe that people in important positions deserve respect and should be addressed respectfully regardless of your personal opinion of them. Besides, I find it difficult to take someone seriously when they refer to our president as “Barry.” Here is an example of what I am talking about from a comment on a news story on a major news site. [Not that comments to online news stories are a good representation of the public, at least I certainly hope they are not representative, but they can serve as an illustration of my point].

“[A person] will run against the Barrack Hussein WH — they will sign of the school system to the teacher unions for the future obligation of their pension and health benefits — what that BHO care .. his kids are in a private school!”

That quote is taken completely out of context so it does not make a lot of sense (it does not make a lot of sense in context either). First, the commenter referred to Pres. Obama as “Barrack [sic] Hussein,” which is an obvious appeal to anti-Muslim sentiment (or, at least the logical fallacy of guilt by association [in this case with Saddam Hussein]). Secondly, the commenter referred to Pres. Obama as “BHO”, which is not necessarily disrespectful but neither is it respectful. I know people will quibble with my point but I believe that the office of President of the United States of America is deserving of more respect, regardless of your feeling about a particular president.

We can criticize and make a caricaturization of a president but the office of president should still be respected. Much of this boils down to basic civility, a quality I fear too many in our country lack. A person only weakens an argument by reverting to name-calling or otherwise disrespectful attitudes towards others.

All politics, all the time – Romney, Cantor say market turmoil mostly to blame for 2008 loss « – from CNN.com

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive – Romney, Cantor say market turmoil mostly to blame for 2008 loss « – Blogs from CNN.com.

Whenever I feel like punishing myself I read comments on CNN.com political stories. They are seriously that bad. I don’t mind intelligent commentary from liberals or conservatives or whomever but there are so few logical, balanced, and intelligent comments that it is painful for me to read, which is why I rarely do. On this particular story, not more than 10% of the comments are from conservative posters. That is the norm for CNN.com stories. Why are only about 10% of comments from conservatives?

I posted a comment a number of hours ago, well before some of the most recent comments. Is my comment on the site? Nope. Hmm, maybe I didn’t submit it correctly. Maybe my 15 year experience with the world wide web does not give me enough skills to successfully interact with websites and successfully submit my comments. That’s probably why my comment went missing.

Or, maybe my comment was too inflammatory. I guess when I set up a straw man and ad hominem attack like the following it is to be expected that my comment would not be posted: “Isn’t it funny that so many liberals comment so frequently on CNN.com stories. Maybe it’s because they are all living off welfare and aren’t doing anything more useful than comment on online news stories while conservatives are out working or at church (since it is Sunday) or otherwise being productive.” Okay, I really did not post that. I didn’t even think of it until just now as I was trying to come up with some completely off-the-wall, ridiculous, and stupid comment for my somewhat sarcastic post.

So what terrible comment did I really post? I replied to the many people who said things like, “This just goes to show that this Dying Old Party has not got a clue” or ” It was because of the Bush Economics [sic] that the economy fell apart”. Mainly I replied to the people who posted scathing, hateful comments that insulted Mitt Romney (and Republicans in general) as well as who said that he was just trying to deny any Republican responsibility (e.g., “The arrogance of this party [Republicans] is revolting. Still not willing to own up to any thing, truly pathetic [sic]”).

This is roughly what I said (I’m expanding on my comment here on my blog). Romney was not denying Republican responsibility. He said, “Republicans and Democrats have been playing this game, passing the hot the [sic] potato, spending money like there was no tomorrow.” All he did was include Democrats in his criticism yet so many people think he’s trying to push the blame onto anybody but Republicans or Pres. Bush (“speaking” of Pres. Bush, here’s a wonderful, hateful ad hominem comment on the story: “The Republicans still don’t get it…They picked a drunk sot, hooker chasing, coke sniffing, moron, loud mouth, scum bag, out of Texas in 2000…”; I guess it could have been worse!).

Romney was simply criticizing the constant fiscal irresponsibility of Washington. Democrats are to blame as well as Republicans. Democrats have had control of Congress since 2006. Congress have the authority to actually pass budgets; they have to work with the executive branch but Congress “pays the bills” (technically, we pay the bills, or actually the Chinese and the rest of the world who loan us the money, but that’s beside the point).

Further, the causes of the economic crisis started in the 1990s (actually, they started a long time ago when we as a people started individually being more fiscally irresponsible, which I believe started en masse some time after WWII). Some people decry the Republicans for not providing enough oversight of Wall Street (hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? Not that more regulations are the best idea.) while forgetting that many Republicans (including Pres. Bush) pushed for oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2004 and Democrats refused to vote for that oversight (to be fair – so did some Republicans). Further, in general, Democrats weren’t exactly clamoring for any sort of financial markets oversight. In fact, it was mainly Democrats (including Clinton) in the 90s who pushed (successfully) to force lenders to carry more risky debt by offering mortgages to historically unqualified borrowers (again, Republicans are partially to blame for this too). If you want a cause of the financial crisis, that’s certainly a big part of it.

Romney did criticize Republicans but he also criticized Democrats. He criticized all wasteful spending, regardless of who authorized it. Pres. Bush was a big spender (actually, Congress was the big spender, Pres. Bush just asked them to spend a lot of money; however, Pres. Bush’s spending is “small potatoes” to Pres. Obama’s spending). Unlike what many people believe, Pres. Obama is not spending money (again, it’s really Congress spending the money) to clean up Pres. Bush’s mess – that’s a naive and ludicrous argument; it’s like saying Pres. Bush physically caused Hurricane Katrina (there are people who believe that!) and Pres. Obama has to clean up New Orleans because of Pres. Bush’s hurricane. Republicans in general did not even cause the financial crisis. We (citizens of the United States) all did – all of us who were irresponsible with our money, from the top down and the bottom up! We speculated on speculations of real estate or oil or whatever else we could. We let the government’s size grow out of control and few even tried to stop it; certainly most Democrats didn’t.

That’s basically what I posted (it was much briefer on CNN.com). Yet, my comment did not make it through moderation; however, hateful anti-Mormon comments (e.g., “Romney still does not get it! No one will vote for him a cult member aka MORMON.” [note: that is a direct quote]) and otherwise inane or bigoted comments did. Like I said, I only read CNN.com political comments when I want to punish myself.

Prejudice in the Primaries

Orson Scott Card, one of the best contemporary writers, frequently writes articles about his views on politics and other issues. On January 13, 2008 he published an article called Prejudice in the Primaries. He outlines how religious and racial prejudices are affecting the primaries. People vote against Romney because he is LDS (polls in early January showed 25% of people saying outright that they would not vote for a Mormon) and conversely some people vote for McCain because he’s not openly religious. People also vote against Obama because he’s black. I agree with him that racial and religious bigotry is likely affecting the primaries more than we care to think.

Amy Sullivan’s old but still very salient article Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem is a wonderful exposé on the problem that Mitt Romney faces. Just as there is no room for racism in our country there is no room for religism.