Where should partisan politics draw the line?

To add to what’s already been said, what happened in Libya was a tragedy, which Wiesman covered with truly heartfelt eloquence. On the heels of this tragedy, I heard an interesting discussion on NPR as I was driving in to work this morning and thought it was worth mentioning here (especially since I’ve been missing the mark on making topical posts, apologies all around). 

The question raised by the tragedy in Libya and the reaction from the Romney camp (that the White House was sending “mixed signals”) was whether partisan politics should draw the line when it comes to international incidents. 

Let’s be fair, there’s been a lot of mud slinging this year on both sides (though IMHO the GOP has been taking it to a whole new level, freaking slut shamers) but as Wiesman expressed, this is too much. 

Which returns to the question, how far is too far? I firmly believe that in the wake of a national tragedy, we need to stand together as Americans. Freedom of expression, freedom of opinion–these are all sacred rights but as one NPR guest mentioned, perhaps partisan politics should end at the water’s edge. 

But I think it’s important to continue to ask these questions. Yes, I think Romney is a sleaze for commandeering this tragedy for his own political gain, but is it necessarily wrong for political parties to be critical of the president’s stance in a time like this? How critical should political parties be of the seated president in times of distress? 

Anyways, not sure what the answer is, but good stuff to keep thinking about…


One thought on “Where should partisan politics draw the line?”

  1. This is a tough question, of course. Personally, I think the correct answer is one that requires nuance (which naturally means it’s not an answer that politicians or the media will ever pick up on).

    When one group acts in violence upon another, there needs to be a way to effectively talk about all sides of 1) the context that lead up to the violence and 2) the possible responses to the violence, without the conversation IMMEDIATELY being reduced to “How dare you EXCUSE what was done!” or “How dare you blame ANYONE other than the people who did this?” or any number of overly simplistic pieces of outrage that are so common.

    The problem is that this kind of reduction is too easy a strategy. When one side says, “Of course the people who committed this crime were monsters, but it’s also worth looking at the motivations of the people who deliberately denigrate the Islamic religion,” the knee-jerk reaction on the other side is “OMG HOW DARE YOU excuse this horrible act!” It’s a simplistic response, it’s a coward’s response… but it works. It’s a way to make people literally frightened of raising any questions of context, for fear that they will be seen as “excusing” a ridiculous and violent act.

    I don’t know that there is an answer, as long as we live in a world where nuance has no power.


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