Bush 41: Incivil Politics ‘Just Not Right’
President George H.W. Bush says presidents are “entitled to civil treatment and intellectual honesty when it comes to critics” and that harsh criticism “should not be par for the course. To the degree it turns off one student or one person from serving that’s bad.”
Now, I fully agree that the 24/7/365 political combat that is the byproduct of cable news (or, as Bush puts it, “the cables”) and the Internet has corrosive effects. So, too, does the permanent campaign that grew out of that environment. He’s right, too, that it this poisonous atmosphere has likely turned some good people away from public service.
I’m not sure what to do about any of this, however. The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to free political expression and the nature of instantaneous communication free of gatekeepers is such that incivility is almost a given. And, surely, the fact that some student — or, even, lots of them — will shy away from politics isn’t sufficient reason to regulate speech.
So, if Bush the Elder is merely expressing his frustration at the way things are — or even calling on people to think about the effects of their style of communication — it’s all well and good. If he’s saying government should “do something” about it, I respectfully disagree.
MSNBC video via The Swamp