Friday, August 28, 2009

In The Rear View Mirror by Paul F. Etcheverry

With apologies, I leave the playgrounds of music and movies. I'll return to the sandbox - like the great Brian Wilson in 1966 - pronto.

Eulogies for Senator Edward Kennedy continue to pour in and literally thousands are paying their respects at the Kennedy Library as I write this. Not only is there the sense, with the recent deaths of the Senator from Massachusetts and his sister, formidable activist Eunice Kennedy Shriver, of the end of an era in our shared history. There's a gnawing feeling that a certain style and approach in American politics, one in which you can battle opposing forces toe-to-toe without demonizing and dehumanizing them, is vanishing.

Senator Kennedy and Rep. Jack Kemp, both recently passed, as well as 2009 Medal Of Honor recipients (Kemp posthumously) this year, represented the two opposite sides of this coin. Both were lightning rods who followed their own paths, assertively partisan yet capable of listening to and at times even finding common ground with political foes. They found the most unlikely collaborators in public service and ruffled feathers in both parties along the way.

The concept that legislators can disagree vehemently on how to solve the problems of the day while
working together on policy initatives, not only maintaining a civil relationship but actually (shudder) becoming friends - something Ted Kennedy was particularly and singularly adept at - is rapidly becoming a quaint anachronism.

Much to our country's detriment, the status quo now, not just in campaigning, but in governing (as well as in the often brain-dead national discourse), is to not just destroy your opponent but leave scorched earth and a pile of smoking ashes behind.

And we wonder why social and political problems get worse and nothing gets done.

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