Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bless Her Heart!

There is a southernism that goes something like "Bless [insert a possessive pronoun here] Heart!" When this is invoked, the speaker generally means one of three things:
1) It is often used to negate the blame for something (usually embarrassing or personally offensive) that the speaker has just said as it should be obvious that it is true and needed to be said; as in: "He's a worthless, lazy, two-faced, prevaricator. Bless his heart!"
2) It is sometimes used to indicate that the speaker believes that someone is just not quite up to snuff mentally; as in: "She just keeps touching that wet paint, bless her heart!"
3) It is also sometimes used to indicate that the speaker believes you to be beneath contempt and is done speaking with you; as in "Well! Okay then! Bless your heart."
It is my belief that this phrase is probably being used all over the south today in the second context with regards to a certain former half-term governor of the state of Alaska. I sometimes wonder if she is quite all there.

There are any number of reasons one might make this assessment. The one that caught my attention today was part of the video she posted basically disavowing herself of any blame for the shootings in Arizona. It is not as if people are blaming her for buying the shooter the bullets. The arguments I have been hearing (and the ones I have been making) is that she is a part of the problem.

It is the overall vitriol of the political discourse these days that I (and others like me) object to. But Ms. Palin fails to see that the acerbic rhetoric comes from BOTH sides of the argument. She seems to be oblivious to the fact that the overall level of the public discourse has sunk to such a level that the gutter would be sever steps up! She does not seem to understand that pundits (oh, and Sarah, there is only one 'n' in that word… the word is not 'pundint.') on both sides have gotten further from civil as the years have gone on.

But the argument that was laughable in her statements today was when she sarcastically asked what more civil time we (those of us suggesting that the political atmosphere really needs to calm down a bit.) might want to go back to. She suggests in a rather snarky manner that we might want to return to a time when political disagreements were settled with dueling pistols.

Aside from the fact that it was generally personal disagreements rather than political ones that were settled this way, it is really missing the point. No, Sarah, we're not suggesting we return to the days of deuling. We're also not suggesting that we return to the days when Todd would have proposed by hitting you over the head with a club and dragging you by your hair to his cave. (Though with some of your professed beliefs, I am not entirely sure that your engagement didn’t begin this very way.)

There was a time in our country when the political discourse was at least covered in a veneer of civility. Do you remember the days when presidential debates were actual debates where candidates answered questions about the issues and didn't just use them as platforms to spout spurious charges and to repeat their talking points ad nauseum? Do you remember when debate was debate and not a slanging match?

I'm tired of tuning to one network and getting noting but the republican talking points, turning to another and hearing only the democratic talking points, and turning to a third and hearing only conjecture. What happened to the days of Point/Counterpoint where the network presented both sides of the discussion and allowed the viewers to make-up their own minds?

Those days have been swept away in a tide of partisanship on the major news networks. Bloviating passes as reporting. Debate has been replaced by yelling, finger-pointing, and pontificating. I'm sorry to single you out, Ms. Palin, but you seem to ignore the fact that YOU ARE a part of the problem. The problem exists on both sides of the political discourse; you seem to be the most vocal is decrying any responsibility. Being centrist, I will be the first to say that pundits on both sides are responsible. When one goes too far off center, they have still gone too far regardless of which way they have gone.

I now step down off the soap box. PLEASE dial it down a bit. Everyone!

Wherever you are today, whatever your political views, I certainly hope that you will do your part to return civility to the public discourse!

Don Bergquist - January 13, 2011 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA


Anonymous said...

You said: "Being centrist, I will be the first to say that pundits on both sides are responsible."

You are very brave to take a centrist view in today's political climate. In my view a centrist runs the same risk as a police officer who responds to a fight between a husband and a wife. I've heard that sometimes when the police officer arrives, the husband and wife will stop fighting each other and will temporarily make up because the hatred that they had for each other gets redirected towards the police officer. I guess that police officers have even been injured in some of these situations.

On the surface, it appears that the police officers are peacemakers when this sort of event occurs. But the problem I think is that after the police officer (the centrist in my example)goes away, the hatred that the two sides (the husband and the wife) had for each other will once again grow to be just as bad or even worse than it was before.

Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

Dear Anonymous Reader:

Thank you for reading and commenting on the blog! Interesting analogy. I have never thought of the Centrist view as being the police in the political discourse.

I know you said something subtly different, but it is still an interesting concept.

If, I am putting myself in the political crossfire I suppose that is just my lot in life. There are issues upon which I am fairly liberal, others on which I am pretty conservative. Anyone who is intellectually and politically honest, I think, covers a spread of the spectrum.

And just like a world without police, think of how bad the political discourse would be without those voices calling people to the center to try and work-out a position everybody can agree on.

Thanks again for your comments!


Anonymous said...

As usual your comment was brilliant (meaning that it was something I had not thought about before myself). We might think that today's political climate is dangerous and overly politicized. But if it were not for the centrists who have fought valiantly throughout history to try to moderate the extremists of their times, mankind might have destroyed himself and the earth many years ago. We should pay tribute to the centrists of the world who have placed themselves in the political crossfire, not for their own good, but for the good of mankind.

I'm also curious about something. Could you please give me an example of an issue that you are a conservative on and an issue that you are liberal one? (I know that you are conservative about wanting people to get a ticket when they break the speed limit when they go past your house but could you give me an example of another issue that you are conservative on).

Also, some people have said that the southern part of the United States is similar in some ways to South Africa. Being as you have lived in both places I was wondering if you had an opinion about that.


Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

My Dear Anonymous Reader,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog.

You write: "But if it were not for the centrists who have fought valiantly throughout history to try to moderate the extremists of their times, mankind might have destroyed himself and the earth many years ago." Ah! The importance of moderation!

Yes, that is the role of moderates, centrists, call us what you will. We help restore the balance to the system. As I have said, I don’t care whether you're extremist toward the right or the left, when you get too far from the center, you've gone too far!

You ask a complex question. As a general rule, fiscally I am pretty conservative. Socially, I tend toward the liberal. I think that government has shown again and again that it is really bad at legislating morality. ("Prohibition" anyone?) I also think that if you expect your populace to live within their means, there is no rationale for the government not doing the same thing. It's a little like a parent spanking their child to teach the lesson that hitting your sibling is a bad thing.

Thanks again for reading and commenting!