Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's the big deal?

It all started way back in October, when a Huckleberries Online interview of Bill Sali got d2 of 43rd State Blues a little bothered - d2 thought interviewer DFO let Sali off easy, and DFO huffily de-linked 43sb for impugning his journalistic ethics. Honestly, I thought both sides overreacted, since I neither believe it's a breach of journalistic ethics to move on after a politician dodges a question, nor do I believe that 43sb is shrill enough to warrant communications being cut off, given that these are blogs we're talking about..

Bubblehead of The Stupid Shall Be Punished was of a similar opinion, and wrote a post about the conflict - and political diplomacy in general. Sez Bubblehead of an exchange with Sali's publicist:

Mr. Hoffman had E-mailed me to find out why a lifelong Republican like myself isn't supporting his boss, and why I now consider myself a Democrat when it comes to state politics. We courteously exchanged views for about an hour, and while neither of us changed the other's mind, it was a good chance for both of us to better understand where the other camp is coming from. (As an added bonus, I was able to put in a pitch for Mr. Hoffman's boss to support increased submarine funding.) Wayne pointed out that he recently interacted with Mr. Sali's opponent for both the 2006 and 2008 elections, Larry Grant, and because both behaved with civility and decorum, it was a positive experience. As a result of this personal interaction, I'm sure I'll be more likely to get an answer when I look for a quote from Mr. Sali on whatever "gotcha" (or real) questions I come up with as the campaign heats up.

Bubblehead is right that name-calling isn't very productive, but I think important to look closer at what's taking place here. To Sali's people, Bubblehead is a reasonable Grant voter, and he also conveniently fits well in the image of the voter Sali would like to woo - conservative but independent-minded, financially and socially secure in a state where people look and act a lot like him. And because Bubblehead is not queer, is not working two jobs to make ends meet, is not a religious or ethnic minority (...) - he's not as likely to bring up issues that directly affect those people. If he happens to, he's not going to put Sali or his reprsentative in a position to tell him that he's going to have to choose between buying food and insulin for his children, or that he won't be able to visit his dying partner in the hospital. And anyone facing that kind of problem is bound to sound a little shrill next to the politician calling for civility and reason in political dialog.

I don't bring these things up to criticize Bubblehead in the slightest - being part of a majority is pretty common I hear - but to point out the privilege he enjoys when interacting with the people who happen to be in power. He's got some emotional bones to pick with Sali, too, but for the most part, Sali won't be standing between Bubblehead and what Bubblehead wants in life.

So when Mountain Goat exposes Steven Thayn's son's domestic violence offenses, and is accused of unreasonably mixing up the political with the personal, it's a good idea to step back and think about what's being presented as reasonable,. Adam Graham unknowingly makes this point clear when the example he gives of people taking politics a little too personally is the frigging American Civil War.

I hate to bear the bad news, but when politics determine choices of life and death, choices involving love and family and health, they're personal.
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