There are cries on both sides of the political aisle for a return to civility.
When did it go away?
It happened fifty years ago in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.
The left killed civility.
The documentary Best of Enemies, available on Netflix, centers on ten debates broadcast on ABC during the 1968 Republican and Democratic conventions between left-wing author Gore Vidal and National Review founder William F. Buckley, whose remaking of the conservative movement resulted in the election of Ronald Reagan at president twelve years later.
Buckley and Vidal’s feud went back years earlier and continued until their deaths.. Both men had polished mid-Atlantic accents and were masters of grammar. Debate moderator Howard K. Smith called them “two craftsmen” of language as he introduced the duo at their first debate during the GOP convention in Miami Beach.
There the similarities ended. Buckley was a devout Catholic and Vidal was a hedonist.
Over the course of the debates the rancor metastasized. By the final debate the hatred between the two men–yes, they really despised each other–was evident. When Smith brought up a protest in Chicago’s Grant Park and queried Vidal if it was “a provocative act to try to raise the Vietcong flag in the park in the film we just saw,” name calling followed. Vidal told Buckley that he was a “crypto Nazi” which led the usually genteel Buckley to respond angrily, “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered.” It was very likely the first time “queer” was uttered on television when it referred to homosexuality.
The Chicago Police of course, on live television in front of millions of viewers, including myself, beat many of the protesters with billy clubs in front of the convention headquarters hotel. The chaos ironically helped elect Republican Richard Nixon president. What a report later called a “police riot” of course occurred at the Democrats’ convention and Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley, was one of the most powerful Democrats in America.
The night after the riot, Daley explained on CBS, very late in the evening when few people were watching, that the cops’ tempers were inflamed because they were pelted with bottles and bags filled with feces and urine.
A couple of years later in an incident recalled in leftist Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” guidebook, there was a protest of lawyers inside the Chicago federal court building during the Chicago Seven trial. The Seven were alleged conspirators who were being tried, quite unfairly it turned out, for disrupting the 1968 convention. The courthouse protest was put to bed by a federal judge, William Campbell, which compelled one of the assembled lawyers to shout, “Fck you Campbell!” Alinsky didn’t scold the sole heckler, instead he admonished the other attorneys for not starting a “fck you Campbell” chant.
Antifa loves four-letter word chants. As do many other left-wingers.
Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis was about Alinsky. And a Chicago Alinkskyite organization gave Barack Obama his first political job.
In spite of, or probably because of the insults, the Vidal-Buckley debates were a huge hit for little-watched ABC News. As Best of Enemies points out, CBS’ still relatively new 60 Minutes quickly utilized the format with its Point-Counterpoint segment between a liberal and conservative, which was hilariously parodied on Saturday Night Live. Of course SNL’s writers gave the nasty punchline to Aykroyd’s conservative alter ego, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”
As for the shout-shows on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, they also can look to the Vidal-Buckley debates for their genesis.
As for Donald Trump, sure he’s a crude man. But he is simply fighting back.
And where were the obscene chants when the Tea Party movement was at its peak? When have Trump supporters tossed urine and feces at their opponents?
Professor Van Helsing:Gentlemen we are fortunate Dr Seward: Why? Professor Van Helsing He’s an imbecile
Dracula Dead and Loving it 1995
As I pointed out a few days ago the 2002 Wellstone funeral ended up costing Democrats a Senate seat in Minnesota and was widely credited with helping the GOP in a midterm election that would normally have been considered bad for them and suspected that one of the reasons why Sarah Palin was not invited was they didn’t want reaction shots of her while the speakers decided to make the event a nevertrump extravaganza and closed my piece saying:
Now I could be completely wrong about this and I hope I am but given the history of the last two years and the willingness of anti-trump forces to cross lines that were hitherto sacrosanct, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Well I spent the day flying to Atlanta and visiting with my Pal Vinnie, his brother Joe and finally having the pleasure of introducing my wife of thirty years to their 90 year old father who is a gentleman who can tell you real stories of Jim Crow in the 40’s having lived through it as a black man. My wife and I had a spectacular evening chatting about life, history and the lot around the dinner table in the old fashioned way so I missed all the the McCain funeral.
It’s a fair knock to say that Meghan’s shots at Trump were impolite, not so much to Trump himself but to Trump supporters who admired McCain and tuned in today in good faith to hear a celebration of his life, not to have more mud flung at their guy. (I wonder how small the overlapping section is at this point in the Venn diagram of “Trump supporters” and “McCain admirers.”) Ivanka herself and Jared Kushner were in the audience to pay their respects and found themselves having to sit through this. Awkward, to say the least. Ultimately, though, what we dislike about “politicizing a funeral” is that it takes an occasion devoted to the deceased and turns it into a platform for the speaker’s agenda.
Now while I’d be a tad inclined to give Meghan a bit of slack as the death of her father might have clouded her judgement a tad, ex President’s Obama and Bush have no such excuse:
John McCain’s daughter and two former presidents led a public rebuke of President Donald Trump’s divisive politics at the late senator’s memorial service Saturday in a call for a return to civility among the nation’s leaders.
The nearly three-hour service at the Washington National Cathedral was a remarkable show of defiance against a president McCain openly defied in life as the antithesis of the American spirit of service to something greater than any individual.
Even more incredible than this to me however is the fact that there are people on the left who are absolutely giddy about it, in fact one was so giddy he took the trouble to tweet me about it:
oddly enough I didn’t use my father’s funeral as a chance to throw zingers at my political enemies, but that’s me
Meghan’s going to spend the next 48-72 hours being lectured by Trump fans for her supposed lack of decorum, never mind that POTUS could start belching into the mic at his rallies like Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds” and would be cheered for his show of “authenticity” and refreshing disdain for political politesse. It’s a valid criticism in this sense: If the roles were reversed and Ivanka Trump had chosen the occasion of her dad’s funeral to take a shot at McCain, no doubt the entire political class would start clucking about “politicizing a funeral” too.
And apparently the trend of turning funerals into political forums was not confined to McCain’s. Apparently groping Ariana Grande was not the only outrageous thing that took place at Aretha Franklin’s funeral
“Then this orange apparition had the nerve to say she worked for him! You lugubrious leech!” he bellowed, apparently meaning that President Trump is a sad and mournful bloodsucker. “You dopey doppelganger of deceit and deviancy!” he continued, sticking with the alliteration theme. “You lethal liar, you dimwitted dictator! You foolish fascist!!!”
His use of the word “fascist” brought many in the cheering crowd to their feet.
Nothing says respect for the dead like using them as a prop for political attacks.
Now it’s clear that those in attendance loved those attacks and that many on the left cheer them but in an election year where your base is already energized the last thing you want to do is to energize your opponents and I can’t think of anything that’s more likely to make Trump voters run to the pols than what took place at these two funerals. The effect of all of this is going to be Wellstone on steroids.
The only thing more shocking than their actions is their apparent ignorance or indifference as to what the electoral effects of said actions will be.
If you judge a man by the wisdom of his enemies one must conclude Donald Trump has to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Closing thought. While I’ll take the political advantage given my side, I’d just as soon have done without said advantage for the sake of showing respect for the dead by allowing both the McCain and Franklin funerals to be about remembering the deceased.