Monday, March 22, 2010

Peter Sagal

My very favorite show that I do not want to miss is "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!" on NPR. Peter Sagal is the host, and my favorite panelists are Paula Poundstone, Roy Blount, Jr., and Mo Rocca. There are others that are always fun. He's been on Craig Ferguson's show a couple of times, so you can imagine that!

I've been following Peter Sagal on Twitter and discovered that he has a blog. This is his latest post and a good time to share it with you. He invited Obama haters to comment on his blog, so if there are those who want to, please do it there instead of here. The link is in the title, HERE, and on my blog list. He apparently wants to hear them, but I don't. Thank you.

Whence the hatred?

March 20th, 2010

I have been interested, to the point recently of somewhere between deep concern and obsession, with the nature of the political divide. We don’t disagree anymore, we loathe. Maybe it was always thus, but it sure has been that way for a long time now. I heard Republican representatives talk today about “taking our country back.” Which was what Howard Dean was saying in 2004. Clearly, although the two sides think differently, they feel the same.

I am aware that many people today hate President Obama to the same extent, or even more, than other people hated President Bush. And one could argue that this equivalency — and there is equivalence, at least in the vehemence of feeling - is in itself sufficient explanation. That is, it’s not who we’re hating, it’s the hating itself: our essential, tribal nature drives us to seek an Opponent and affix to him (or her) all Blame and Responsibility for That Which Is Wrong, and we shall Cure Our Ills by Fighting that Individual. Fine, and I think that’s true, to a shocking extent. We are all far less rational than it is comforting to believe.

But… I watched the President’s speech today in front of the House Democrats. It is entirely impromptu, no prepared texts. And I can understand entirely why people might disagree with him. His central argument that we in America should be “neighborly” and “look out for each other, ” with the unstated implication that this should be done via the power of the state, strikes intelligent people as wrong and dangerous, and as an affront to liberty and responsibility. I totally dig that, and in certain circumstances, usually when paying my taxes, find myself, if not in complete agreement, then certainly sympathetic.

But, how in the world can people look at this well-spoken, articulate, sincere man, who is at least as honest in his goals and his ideology as his opponents are in theirs, and hate him? Loathe him? I honestly don’t get it. Any explanation would be welcome.

(To anticipate one: his opponents to a great degree deny that he is sincere. They believe he is “deceptive,” and is hiding his true nature, which is far more cynical/ideological/ambitious than he allows himself to appear. Thus they can ascribe to him all kinds of unpleasant characteristics for which there is no apparent evidence. But I don’t really understand where the initial assumption of his deception comes from, either.)

(To anticipate another: yes, some of his opponents hate him because he is black. But I am not interested in that, because it is not interesting, nor is it sufficient.)


Joy said...

The comments on Sagal's blog are fascinating, articulate, intelligent, and informative. The ones on there are from typical listeners of NPR. Check them out.

Berry Blog said...

Agreed...what is horrifying me is that biases are surfacing and being blatantly expressed by very well educated people whom I would think know better. It's as if lately it is simply okay to to vomit the bile in our bellies with abandon and total lack of responsibility for the inflammatory effect of the poison thrust out there. The same people would turn in a minute and claim the opposite if the tide turned as if " I never said that."