Opinion » Bill Cope

The Boors Next Door

And don't you tread on me!


Let's try another thought experiment, if you don't mind. Imagine, if you will, a Tea Party gathering... no, no, let's change that to a Republican Party gathering, because, well, you know... if it quacks like a duck, and smells like a duck, and so on.

So imagine, if you will, a Republican Party gathering, or any congregation of right-wingers, whatever they're calling themselves... and now imagine them being courteous. No yelling, no interrupting, no offensive language or signs or posters, no angry tirades, no spittle flying from their mouths, no reaching for the most absurd conspiracy theories or accusations and no racial or sexual slurs.

In other words, imagine any gathering of modern conservatives who are politely and thoughtfully listening to reasonable arguments that don't involve wild theories and discredited claims, who are weighing the positions presented with a genuine curiosity about the functionality of those positions, and who are not judging everything they say or hear as to how it conforms to a preconceived ideology or, worse, a conviction that whatever they heard on a radio talk show, or read on a blog, is the absolute truth, regardless of whether or not there are any facts or evidence to back it up.

Can't be done, can it? Anymore, it's just damn near impossible to imagine right-wingers behaving with any courtesy, consideration or civility. It is easier to imagine baboons attending Harvard.

I'm convinced the ugliness to which they have sunk is not discussed nearly enough. It's generally acknowledged how wrong they are about almost everything, and how dishonest they are about almost everything. But rarely do I hear how abysmally rude they are about almost everything. I've been thinking about it for the past few days, since a total stranger reminded me firsthand how obnoxious the right has become.

I was in my front yard doing something--can't remember exactly what, but it involved a garden hose and the only relevance it has to this story is that it was the reason I was standing out in 100-degree sunlight. Whatever it was had my complete attention and I wasn't aware there was a man walking by until he said something, which I asked him to repeat because I didn't hear him the first time.

"Obama?... you still think he's any good?" He pointed to the political sticker my wife had put on the pickup's tailgate.

OK, it's possible I rushed to judgment, based on the sneer in his voice, that he was questioning my judgment. But of course, he soon proved me right. I answered, "Absolutely! He's the best president in my lifetime, and I'm old!"

It's also possible that my response had a tad more edge and hyperbole in my tone than I had intended. But after six years of watching inferior specimen after inferior specimen insult a man I admire very much, demean him, demean his wife, demean everything he does or says with the most trivial, dishonest, foolish mental slop that I have ever heard spill from the mouths of people who have tragically risen to leadership positions in our government and prominence on that shit stain pretending to be a news source--do I have to say "Fox?"--I was not in a mood to listen to some stranger question my taste in presidents.

Besides, it wasn't me who intruded, rudely, into his walk. It was he who intruded, rudely!, into whatever I was doing with that garden hose.

The conversation continues for maybe a half-dozen lines of dialogues from each of us. He said, to my claim of Obama's excellence as a president, "You gotta be kidding me!" to which I replied, "Not a bit. And let me tell you something else... if he didn't have to deal with that oozing Republican sludge that passes for a Congress, it's likely he would be considered one of the finest presidents in all of U.S. history!"

By this time, I could tell he was getting hot--more than the 100-degree sunshine would account for--and he asked, "What do you say about the 40 percent approval rating?"

First let me tell you what I wished I had said. I wished I had said, "I never expect much more than 40 percent of Americans to have the brains to recognize a good thing when they see it." Sadly, that line didn't come to me until later, after he'd stomped off down the street shaking his head. What I actually said was, "Well, he'll never get down in the toilet to where Bush ended up, and he's still about double what people think of Congress."

All I can remember the guy saying after that was something to the effect that "Bush was five times the man Obama is!" and I said something to the effect that "Bush is a white-trash monkey with money!" He was probably still saying things as he, like I said, stomped off down the street, and I know for sure that I was still saying things as I stomped back into the house. I suspect he may still be thinking of things he should have said, five days after the incident, just as I am still thinking of things I should have said.

Obviously, the exchange accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing, except for bringing two adult men to a rolling boil in what should have been private moments for both of us. I no more expected to convince that guy of anything than I would expect to call crows down from the sky to sit on my shoulder. I know by now that nobody is convincing anybody on the opposite side of anything. The lines are drawn, the doors are barred and the only way this American civilization moves forward from here is for people to act civilly to one another.

Yet even that seems too much for the right-wing brain to grasp.