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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Civility and Politics

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's remarks at the Republican Leadership Conference:

Jindal recalled what he said were the "shrill, absurd and negative rhetoric" employed by the left during the eight years Bush was in office.

"We must not mimic their shallow approach," he said to modest applause in a Friday afternoon speech here.

Invoking the debunked notion that president wasn't born in America, the governor said: "I don't question where's he from, I question where President Obama is going."

He also urged conservatives to channel their disdain for the incumbent.

"Hating President Obama is foolish, but defeating President Obama is absolutely crucial," said Jindal.

In an interview after his speech, the governor used even stronger language about his party's tone.

"We as Republicans are Americans first - we have to have respect for the office of the president," said Jindal. "We need to be serious about this debate, it's an important debate about the future of our country. We can't be distracted by ad hominem attacks."

He added: "I think It's hypocritical to say, well, it's not patriotic when they do that to President Bush but it's ok for our side to it to President Obama."

Martin also reports that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour made a similar point:

“If we keep this election about those policies and let the American people compare what we propose to the failed policies of the Obama administration, we’ll win,” he said after ticking off a taxes-spending-regulation litany. “But if we let people in the Obama campaign, take America’s eye off the ball, then that’s their only chance.

Talking to reporters after his speech, Barbour was even more insistent that the attendees here must accept some degree of compromise and tell others in the party to do the same.

“These are party leaders, these are party leaders who need to go back to their counties, their parishes, their communities, their clubs, whatever, and start making people focus on the reality – and the reality is that we’re going to nominate somebody with whom not everybody agrees on everything,” he said.

Meanwhile, a New Jersey union leader illustrated how harsh politics can get. The Asbury Park Press reports:

A labor leader’s likening of Gov. Chris Christie to Adolf Hitler at the public rally outside the Statehouse drew some cheers but also an immediate condemnation from the state lawmaker who was next in line to speak.

Christopher M. Shelton, vice president of CWA District 1 which represents 175,000 workers in New Jersey, New York, and New England states as well as eastern Canada, began his address to thousands in attendance by saying, “Welcome to Nazi Germany.”

“We have Adolf Christie and his two generals trying to turn New Jersey into Nazi Germany,” Shelton said, also referring to Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver. “It’s going to take World War III to get rid of Adolf Christie. Not only is Christie a Nazi, but so are his two generals. Any politician who stands up against collective bargaining is not a Democrat, they’re Nazis.”


Shelton later said his remarks were inappropriate and he apologized "to the governor and to anyone else I may have offended,” the Associated Press reported.