Friday, June 16, 2017

Lest We Furr-get: Definitely NOT Both Sides Now

By Baxter

We cats are sick and tired of opinion makers and others claiming that "both sides" are to blame for the dangerous rhetoric that reigns in Washington.

Sorry, gang, but both sides are not to blame. This is, once again, a maddening case of false equivalence. How do we cats know? Because we were there.

You can trace the end of DC comity to the rise of Newt Gingrich and the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. That was the year that the GOP got its revenge on a young Democratic President who had successfully tossed a hapless George H.W. Bush from office after just one term. The Gingrich Republicans, hypocrites that they were, went on to impeach Clinton for breaking his marital vows. But even before that, we well remember how Newt and his minions managed to mainstream hate and vitriol.

Their extreme reaction to the 1992 election startled us Democratic cats. We remember respected pundit friends who went on TV to express puzzlement over the Clinton hatred. Silly us: We'd thought that the Republicans would simply gird their loins and do battle with us on policy. Instead, they surprised us by engaging in the politics of personal destruction (PPD).

The PPD intensified with the election of Barack Obama and reached new heights during his Presidency, as we all know. And it surely would have continued had Hillary Clinton won the election last year. That, boys and girls, is the history of the stark divide the country now finds itself in.

If we'd had no Gingrich — whom Garry Trudeau used to portray as a lit bomb, remember — we'd have no extreme polarization on Capitol Hill, or at least less of it. And oh, by the way, if we'd had no Republican redrawing Congressional districts after the 2010 census, we'd have far fewer "safe" GOP seats that could coddle extreme right-wing rhetoric. (Yes, Steve King of Iowa, we're looking at you.)

So, at the risk of seeming less than accommodating to today's reality — in which we apparently all must forget that Steve Scalise willingly spoke at a white supremacist event — we cats say no way to both sides being equally guilty of demonizing the other.

Democrats believe in government — which means that Democrats know that to alienate opponents leads to nothing getting done to help Americans live better lives. This is as plain to us as the noses on our furry faces (see above). And to anyone who doesn't see it, we cats HISS.

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