Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (January 16, 2011)

Today, on Meet the Press, David Gregory and company are still talking about the Tucson, Arizona shootings.  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been taken off a ventilator; she is making progress toward recovery.

The broader conversation, with people like Senator Kristen Gillibrand, is that what now?  How will public discourse change after the shootings?  Is this a watershed moment for public discourse that 9/11 was for national security?  (My opinion: Nope!  The politics of the coming election cycle will not allow that)

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Coburn are here to talk about the politics in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings.  What about gun safety and gun control now?

Sen. Chumer is saying that one way to control gun use is to have the military talk to the FBI about individuals who have been though unfit to join the military due to drug use, those individuals should be flagged so that they are screened more thoroughly when applying for a gun permit.

Chuck Schumer, after a lot of hedging and grinning, has admitted that the U.S. Congress does not have the votes to push through a meaningful gun control bill.  For instance even a bill to limit the size of magazine clips from say 30 to 10, the law of the land, until 2004, will not pass.  Senator Tom Coburns, point, as that of much of the GOP is that gun control won’t credibly stop criminals and mentally deranged folks from getting a gun.

Finally, Chuck Schumer is saying that we all believe that the 2nd amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms (I don’t think that is true, but fair enough) but just like the first amendment the 2nd amendment is not absolute.  There is plenty of room to limit access to guns.  (But that won’t go anywhere.)

David Gregory has brought out a truly excellent point that whatever the content of the discourse, and whatever the argument within the “left media”, it is the case that the right has offered the argument that President Obama is an outsider and that he means to harm the fabric of American society through the imposition of some such socialist politics.

Senator Coburn is saying that it is outside the bounds of civil discourse to question the president’s love for the country and that of his friend in the Senate leadership, Senator Chuck Schumer.

(Senator Tom Coburn is offering gentlemanly talking points that are almost contrary to how I believed he would conduct politics when he was first elected to the Senate.)

Senator Tom Coburn, a practicing physician has wholeheartedly agreed that the GOP should seek to repeal the healthcare bill.  (This is of course a silly idea) To that Sen. Schumer is saying that he welcomes the GOP’s moves on this, because it allows the Democrats to reintroduce the good bits, the many good bits, about the healthcare reform bill.

What are the politics behind raising the debt ceiling?  It has to be done, and by the GOP House.  What are the policies on which the GOP will seek to leverage slashing the budget.

David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Tim Shriver (Kennedy relative and Maria Shriver’s brother)  Reverend Al Sharpton and are here; they are the roundtable for today.

Brooks is slinging along his argument about how the GOP and the Democrats can work together for far-ranging tax reform, lowering the tax brackets, enlarging the tax base.

Everyone is clamoring for how great a job President Obama did on his speech commemorating the victims of the Tucson.  It seems as if Peggy Noonan has joined that crowd.

Al Sharpton has been an advocate for education and is saying that if we want civility in our politics, we could work together the right and the left on a pragmatic common ground education reform.

Tim Shriver the CEO of the Special Olympics is sayng that we should follow the president’s line and try to go beyond our quotidian politics for our future.  We should ask more of our children to develop the kinds of community they wish to have.

Peggy Noonan is surely right the American people aren’t worried about the state of discourse in America; they are rather worried about the Jared Loughnors of the world.  And the American people are ready to lock away people like him.

David Brooks has written a piece recently that most people who are mentally ill are not dangerous or are likely to commit violence. However, he thinks that we should incarcerate and institutionalize individuals without their say-so.

Okay, Al Sharpton is saying, so we say we will institutionalize people like Loughner, okay, who will do that?  Who will offer the leadership to make that move to institutionalize Americans without without their will.

Brooks is turning to a Humean, Burkean perspective, here: what is the basis of civility?   Sinfulness, he says?!  He then adds on that we need to converse and work with people that we disagree with quite often, because we can’t achieve all we want by ourselves.  (I’d say its our limits to reason, not our sinfulness that forces us to cooperate, to work with others with whom we disagree.)

So we’re talking about political discourse and civility, but tomorrow is Reverend  Dr. Martin Luthor King Day.  What would he say about politics today?  What about the income gap? Education gap between ethnicities in the U.S.  Rev. Sharpton is saying that well, if you want to commemorate what Dr. King stood for, then stand for the politics and policies that he himself supported and wanted to work on.  Lets work on early childhood education and broader education reform.

Tim Shriver is saying, rightly I think, that we shouldn;t just think about what Dr. King stood for; rather we should also think about how he went about his politics.  He was called an extremist. And he agreed to that tag.  But he wanted to be an extremist for love.  He was passionate, Shriver says, but he sought to channel his passion through non-violence.  And we should teach our kids about those methods.

Rev. Sharpton is saying we should have high aspirations and high goals, but we should engage our politics in a pragmatic, structured and concrete way.  Specific goals, specific policies; no pies in the sky.

~ by Faheem Haider on January 16, 2011.

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