Friday, July 29, 2005

Mean guys

I was watching the House debate on CAFTA a couple of nights ago. Florida Republican Clay Shaw was running things. Time after time after a Democrat spoke, Shaw would dish out a nasty aside dismissing the previous speech as the ravings of a liberal or a fool, then throw it over to a Republican who would set the record straight. His Democratic counterpart, Charlie Rangel, behaved like a gentleman. Republican leaders also pointedly dismissed the Democrats as partisan hacks for opposing the bill, though it was the GOP that had engineered the whole scenario for exactly such an outcome. Does political rhetoric really have to be not merely hot, but insulting and belittling? Even Newt Gingrich had a kind of flamboyance to his rhetoric that made it hard to think he really meant it all.