Rachel Maddow just entertained a lively discussion on her show with David Frum, a conservative journalist and former speech writer for Bush. He capped off his comments with "You guys have a symbiotic relationship with negativity." She bristled at that and at his suggestion that our political discourse needs to be more adult, referring to her show as an example of the lack of seriousness. Maddow likes a little sarcasm like I like a little chocolate sauce on my ice cream. She never met a sarcastic retort she didn't love, and its part of her shtick. I agree with her that all politics doesn't have to be serious, but I wonder if Frum isn't making a larger point that she missed.
He seems to be suggesting that its not enough to simply trade accusations and expressions of righteousness. Yes, it might be so that the Democrats have the upper hand right now because we don't have nitwits yelling "Kill him! and "Terrorist!" about McCain at Obama rallies. And its pretty obvious that Obama has been consistent in taking the high road throughout the campaign.
But is it enough to feel righteous indignation over those nitwits at rallies or the buffoons at FOX? They have FOX and now we have Maddow and MSNBC? Is that the best we can do? I sort of felt like Frum was challenging Maddow to rise above the obvious and have more intelligent conversations with people she may not necessarily agree with. That is the hallmark of truly intelligent, mature political discourse.
Much to my disappointment, she balked and kept reciting the line that she doesn't see it as the equivalent when the other side is yelling "Kill him!" She may have a point, but is that the only point to be made? Its certainly the easiest one to make.
Maddow is an extremely bright woman and can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. Wouldn't it be so much more enlightening if she did, for example, have Paul Wolfowitz on (as Frum suggested) and have an honest to God debate about their differences? I think she's up to it, and, what's more, I think the American electorate is hungry for an honest exchange of ideas. We're all sick of the partisan bullshit, and we're all guilty of it. Twenty-two days and counting.....