The debt ceiling debate: The official end of the ‘new tone’ era?
Remember all that talk in Washington just a few short months ago about the "new tone" in public discourse? You might, but the people who argued for it obviously forgot.
This won't come as a shock to anyone who has spent a single moment following politics, but it is clear that the "new tone" of respect and humanity--as called for by lawmakers, the media and the president after the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left several dead and many more wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords--is long gone.
After a brief hiatus, politicians hailing from both parties are now back to their old ways.
And nothing, it would seem, is off-limits--particularly in the hotbed of hyperbole that marked the congressional debate over the debt ceiling.
With the nation's full faith and credit inches away from falling off a cliff, tempers ran high. There are plenty of examples of Democratic lawmakers, opinion writers, and yes, even Republicans, who tagged as "terrorists" the tea party-backed members who opposed raising the debt ceiling.
Here's a quick roundup of the recent trash talk:
- Vice President Joe Biden, during a private meeting with Democratic House members, reportedly said that Republicans had "acted like terrorists."
- The New York Times, PBS and Politico, to name a few, ran opinion pieces that used the "terrorist" meme. In fact, the Times published four articles calling opponents to raising the limit the t-word. And Joe Nocera wrote that the tea party could finally "put aside their suicide vests" now that the problem seemed to be resolved.
- Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who served under President Bush, called those who opposed the debt limit increase "our version of al Qaeda terrorists." "Really," he added for good measure.
- Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn called President Obama a "tar baby." "Now I don't want to even have to be associated with him," Lamborn said, when asked if the president would be to blame for the debt crisis. "It is like touching a tar baby and you get it—you're stuck, and you're part of the problem now." He later apologized and said he meant to use the word "quagmire."
There will surely be more to follow.
Politics has never been, and never will be, a game exclusive to those who think before speaking.