Heated Rhetoric Not Productive

Villainizing one’s political opponents is nothing new in American politics. Sometimes it gains candidates and their parties edges at the polls, but we know of no situation in which it was good for the country.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pointed that out in a speech last week in Wheeling. “Whether I agree or disagree, the person who made a decision probably made it with the best of intentions. They’re all good, true Americans,” he told listeners.

Perhaps Manchin should schedule an appointment at the White House. President Barack Obama – and many other liberals – don’t seem to agree with the senator’s philosophy.

During his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama said this about those who disagree with him: “The only thing holding (bills he wants passed in Congress) back is politics. The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.”

Clearly, Obama was referring to Republican lawmakers – and he was accusing them of putting politics before patriotism.

At least the president didn’t go as far as U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. During a speech she gave a few days ago in her home state, Waters told a friendly crowd, “As far as I’m concerned, the Tea Party can go straight to hell.”

She referred to the grassroots movement that espouses smaller government and fiscal responsibility, often challenging positions taken by Waters and other liberals.

Politics allegedly is “the art of compromise,” as Manchin seems to understand. We wish him luck in convincing other lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – of that.

“You build a relationship, you can fix a problem,” Manchin said in Wheeling. It is difficult to build relationships with those who question your patriotism or tell you go to to hell.