A few years back residents in an upscale neighborhood in Hamburg were puzzled by the deaths of hundreds of toads around a pond. After much research, a scientist suggested that the toads were victims of clever crows that knew exactly where to peck to get at their livers. When a toad puffed itself up — a natural defense mechanism — the missing liver and the hole created by the crows would cause the unfortunate creature to burst, spew out its entrails, and struggle through an agonizing death. (We’re not making this up.)
We wonder whether pecking out an elected official’s common sense — or at least his sense of decency — might lead to a similarly gruesome political fate.
The First Reading blog at the Austin American-Statesman has excerpts from Monday night’s “tele-town hall” sponsored by the right-wing group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. Michael Quinn Sullivan, the group’s head, interviewed Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Last year Tea Party-favorite Ted Cruz pecked Dewhurst apart in the Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate. Months after his stinging defeat, Dewhurst seems determined to puff himself up in a bid to win over Tea Partiers for whatever political future he still sees for himself. And Monday night he left no doubt that he is willing to say the most contemptible things to sound extreme enough for that crowd. Two examples:
“Obamacare is the worst monstrosity that’s ever happened to this country.”
The “worst monstrosity”? Really? Worse than the enslavement of millions of black people? Worse than segregation? More monstrous than 9/11? Whether one thinks expanding access to affordable health care for all Americans is wise public policy or not, to describe it as the “worst monstrosity that’s ever happened to this country” redefines hyperbole. Then there was this other Dewhurst comment on President Obama and health care reform:
“They are going to do what they want to do to achieve their socialistic agenda … This is a transparently wrong if not evil president that we have to do everything to stop.”
“Evil president”? It’s one thing to have political disagreements with another elected official. It’s quite something else to smear them in terms one would expect to see applied to Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot.
Maybe Lt. Gov. Dewhurst thinks puffing himself up with disgraceful comments like these will make him more acceptable to Tea Partiers. But it’s also possible he’ll simply blow himself up in front of a lot of other voters who prefer more civility and thoughtfulness in people they elect to office.