The success of the 'new civility' in politics really boils down to the Golden Rule

Published: Friday, Feb. 18 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

In examining the short-lived new civility across America, its fairly clear that someone needs to buy every pundit, citizen and politician a mirror.

Following the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., new calls for a more civil dialogue began to emerge almost immediately. In President Barack Obamas speech in Arizona after the shooting, he called on Americans to speak in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

I believe we can do better, the president was quoted in The Huffington Post. Those who died here, those who saved lives here — they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.

On the surface, the peak of the new civility movement came at the State of the Union address, when many Republicans and Democrats crossed the aisle to sit together. But even before the push for civility could take root, people from across the political spectrum were pulling it up within minutes of the shooting.

On Jan. 8, Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, became one of the first people to blame the attack on Sarah Palin. Others quickly followed, with former Rep. Alan Grayson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and The New York Times joining in.

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madmans act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members, The New York Times editorial claimed. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.

Twitter users from around the world took to the social networking site and threatened to kill Palin after the shooting. A compilation of the Tweets is available on YouTube, but the material is explicit.

After the shooting, Jared Loughner was found to have been mentally unstable, kicked out of college for his bizarre behavior and obsessed with his target, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. According to The Christian Science Monitor, no information about his life suggested any ties to Sarah Palin or Republicans.

By the time this information came to light, the chance for civility had arguably come and gone. On Jan. 14, The Huffington Post reported that Eric Fuller, one of the people wounded in the Arizona shooting, blamed Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Sharron Angle for the violence.

Yet the next day, Fuller was arrested for threatening a tea party leader. During a town hall meeting, AOL News reports Fuller took a picture of Trent Humphries before yelling, Youre dead. If the Arizona shooting was supposed to help teach civility, it appeared that the lesson failed to sink in — even for those closest to the situation.

Although the idea of civility had been hyped in Washington, D.C., even before the shooting, it seemed someone forgot to tell the very people — of both parties — who were hyping it.

According to conservative speakers at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Democrats are good at nastiness and feed the public a diet of defamation. President Obama is weak and a liar. Groups like ACORN, Code Pink and unions are hate-filled, racist sheep.

Some Democrats, on the other hand, claim that Republicans are reckless hostage-taker bomb throwers who want Americans to die quickly.

For anyone who thinks its easy to pick out the party affiliation of people based on their actions, think again.

When a MoveOn volunteer was stomped on at a rally outside a Kentucky Senatorial debate, who did the stomping?

The Huffington Post reports it was a Rand Paul (a Republican) supporter.

When a black man was called a racial slur and attacked at a 2009 town hall meeting in St. Louis, who did the attacking?

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