"To some candidates, civility isn't a viable option. And if anybody had ever shown it--what the Brits call good form, what the Yankees call good sportsmanship--he must repent. Not that he'd be forgiven. But he must ask for forgiveness anyway, so that his betters can deny it. Moral of the story: This lowering of the political discourse isn't just a Republican phenomenon. It holds firm in the Democratic Party, too. It's as much of that party's platform as union favors and abortion on demand. To prove the point, watch how long it takes for Joe Biden to cave to the inquisitors this week. The countdown begins. Four, three, two, one ... ."
--Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 26
Well, it took more than a week. Who knew? Joe Biden came out and apologized, sorta, for once having worked with Southern senators in the United States Senate--Southern senators who were segregationists and men of their time. That is, on the wrong side of history.
There have been many such men in the history of this nation, and not just this nation. Better people and better senators, such as Joe Biden, often had to tip-toe through landmines in the Congress to get through to true north. A compass might point you in the right direction, as a president named Lincoln once noted, but it had no opinion on the swamps and deserts in between. Sometimes to get north, you have to head east for a bit.
So, earlier in this presidential campaign, Joe Biden noted that he had worked with all types in his long Senate career. Including some of his more Dixiecrat-aligned colleagues. And there was civility even among those who you might oppose during the next vote.
For that sin, Joe Biden was targeted in the first debates. He finally backtracked over the weekend:
"Now was I wrong a few weeks ago, to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it. I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception that I caused anybody. But did that misstep define 50 years of my record for fighting for civil rights, racial justice in this country? I hope not. I don't think so. That just isn't an honest assessment of my record. I'm going to let my record and my character stand for itself and not be distorted or smeared."
First, not let it be distorted or smeared? He did exactly that by apologizing for . . . we're not sure for what.
And it wasn't even a good apology. Anytime somebody apologizes, but then uses the word "but," that's explaining, not regretting.
It's a shame that in 2019 America, bragging about being civil, or once having been civil, is considered embarrassment enough that folks demand apologies for it. And get one, at that! Where has Teddy Roosevelt gone? Did he ever apologize in this life? Or the next one? Could you imagine a Ronald Reagan or John Kennedy or Jimmy Carter or Dwight D. Eisenhower apologizing for being civil with the opposition? Didn't MLK have to work with LBJ to get his work accomplished? Two men with more different styles we can hardly imagine.
But today, even getting civil rights laws passed, which Joe Biden helped do, isn't enough for the True Believers. All heretics must repent of the things they thought and said several decades ago. Not that they will be forgiven. To err is human, to forgive divine. But neither are policy in today's politics. This is starting to sound like an absurdist play. Or maybe just another hysterical period in American history.
Have we finally reached the bottom in this age, and rage, of political correctness and retroactive hysteria?
Editorial on 07/10/2019
Print Headline: Civility unbidden