Well, this is discouraging.
Not surprising, not by a long shot, but discouraging nevertheless.
Last night, this account of the Delaware U.S. Senate debate went up on The New York Times website. It describes the knives-and-bludgeons gutter fight between tea-party pin-up Christine O'Donnell and her Democratic foe, Chris Coons, where we see the candidates defined, on one hand, as the Red Menace and, on the other, as a papist puppet ready to impose the will of the Vatican upon an oppressed American public.
I can't wait for Nov. 2, can you? From The Caucus blog on the Times' site:
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Delaware Senate candidate, and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, hurled personal attacks at each other in a nationally televised debate Wednesday night.THE DESPAIRING thing about this account isn't that politicians play fast and loose with facts. The despairing thing about this account is that it's, I believe, a pretty fair illustration of exactly how divided, embittered, hateful and raring for a fight we are in America.
A feisty, aggressive Ms. O’Donnell called Mr. Coons a Marxist whose beliefs came from a socialist professor and said he would “rubber stamp” the policies of the Democrats in Washington. Mr. Coons raised questions about whether Ms. O’Donnell’s faith would drive her positions on social issues like abortion, prayer and evolution.
Pressed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Ms. O’Donnell refused to say whether she believed evolution was a myth, saying that “what I believe is irrelevant.” As she did throughout the first half of the debate, Ms. O’Donnell quickly tried to return the focus to Mr. Coons, saying, “I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist belief.”
Back in September, I thought Jimmy Carter probably was engaging in some slight hyperbole when he said the country is Civil War polarized.
"This country has become so polarized that it's almost astonishing," he told NBC anchorman Brian Williams. "Not only with the red and blue states, President Obama suffers from the most polarized situation in Washington that we have ever seen -– even maybe than the time of Abraham Lincoln and the initiation of the war between the states."
THE MORE I think about it, though, the less I think the former president was engaging in hyperbole.
We've gone through bad times in this nation since 1865. We've fought over communism and Vietnam and civil rights. We muddled through 1968. The constitution survived Watergate.
Back then, however, we had a center -- both socially and politically. We had some degree of bipartisanship, a working across party lines, in the nation's capital.
NOW, we have two extremes. The center did not hold, and there's no Abraham Lincoln in sight.
The economy is as bad as it has been since World War II, people are hurting, people are scared, we're post-9/11, we're at war, we're all going broke, and the sexual revolution has laid waste to the American family. And on top of all that, we're at loggerheads over mutually exclusive notions of "how shall we live, then."
And we hate one another. We really, really hate one another.
Hang on. It's going to get ugly before whatever happens, happens.
All we need is a spark. God only knows what that will be.