Grown-ups should act grown up

I am embarrassed for the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their absurd and childish reaction to the passage, by four votes, of the Republicans’ health-no-care act should make each of them cringe with shame.

Of course, it doesn’t.


Here’s what should have happened after the vote and after the Republicans embarrassed themselves with the “Theme from Rocky.” As soon as the Democrats started that completely stupid “Nah-nah … hey, hey goodbye” creepy song, one of their number – someone with some spine – should have asked for the floor and waited for quiet.

Then he or she should have said:

“My fellow Democrats, I would ask this of you at a moment in our history that we will eventually all regret: Show some dignity. Your demonstration here today makes me ashamed to be a Democrat. I thought we were better than this. Are we the party of ideas or the party of childish demonstrations?

“It is true that this vote today could and should cause many Republicans to lose their seats once American voters realize what has been done to them. We should simply leave it at that for this moment and exit this chamber with pride in our opposition to this horrendous bill and with our dignity intact.

“Let us leave it to our opponents on the other side of the aisle to celebrate in their embarrassing manner a bill that they rushed through before the Congressional Budget Office could vet it, knowing what it is going to do to average people and especially to people with pre-existing conditions.

“Let us fight it, certainly, let us support our colleagues in the Senate in their fight against it, but let us not act like petulant, truculent children. There’s enough of that in this chamber without us joining in.

“So, my fellow Democrats, stop your chanting, shut up and grow up.”

Anyone who said that would have my vote for anything for which he or she wanted to run. Emperor? Oh, heck, why not?

But of course, no one did anything of the kind. They all acted like petulent, truculent children as the members of the GOP danced to “Rocky” in the vain and searching hope that their health-no-care duplicity won’t be discovered, leaving me with the impression that, at least when it comes to demeanor and decorum, one is as bad as the other.

I have a friend who believes that the Democrats have to be “as nasty as the Republicans” in order to fight them. I hate that reasoning. The belief seems to be that because Trump acted like a snotty bully, then Democrats should snotty-bully right back.

Sure, let’s all slide into the cesspool of discourse.

Equally embarrassing was Stephen Colbert, who said of President Trump and Vladimir Putin … oh, man, you know I’m not gonna repeat that. Talk about cesspools of discourse. I like Colbert tremendously, and no one has a filthier vocabulary than I, but please, man, some things are over the top – or under the road into the sewer – and his comment was one.

Somebody said – it might have been the New York Post – that had a right-wing commentator (they have no comedians) said the same thing about President Obama, my liberal friends would be out picketing his network demanding his head on a platter with no need of help from Salome. And whoever said it is absolutely right.

So, why should we accept it from Colbert? Because we agree with him? Because he agrees with us? Because, “We’re on the same side.” So what? Slime is slime is slime, and Colbert jumped right in and covered himself in ooze. Liberals should be screaming bloody murder about that the same way they/we would be had Sean Hannity said the same of Barack Obama. Why aren’t we?

I am disheartened by Colbert, I am disheartened by how willing liberals (and I am most certainly such) are willing to let trash slide as long as it supports our point of view. Yes, yes, yes, conservatives are precisely the same, but so what?

I want liberals to be BETTER THAN THAT. I don’t give a flying whatever what conservatives do to embarrass themselves, and they do plenty, but liberals should not sink to the same level. You mean if Hillary had campaigned the same way Candidate Trump did, we’d have been all right with that? Not me, man.

Somebody has to show some dignity. It isn’t going to be, apparently, the Democrats in Congress. It isn’t going to be Stephen Colbert.

You mean, liberal friends, you want to leave dignity to the likes of ME? Are you insane? No, no, no, I am by no stretch of the imagination the standard bearer for dignity. All I can say in my own meager defense is that I wouldn’t stoop as low as the Democrats in Congress or Colbert, but that isn’tsaying very much.

Gang, we have to fight the destruction of our social services, of our safety nets … we have to fight these people (Republicans in Congress) who put ideology above concern for their fellow Americans.

But we cannot, we must not, fight on their level.

As Phil Ochs said in a 1969 Carnegie Hall concert after Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin had the mike for a few minutes of pretty nasty talk:

“We don’t have to be vulgar to defeat the vulgarians.”

Ochs believed in ideas (many of his were kind of nutty, though.) We should, too.

And dignity.

Give it a shot, eh?

Mike Cleveland is former editor of The Cabinet.