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Posted by on Oct 23, 2007 in Politics | 13 comments

One Good Thing

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During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, Rush Limbaugh was a guest on David Letterman’s late-night show. Letterman asked Limbaugh if he could say just one nice thing, one good thing, about the President. Limbaugh couldn’t, or more accurately, wouldn’t — and that was pretty much the end of any interest I had in Limbaugh.

Last month, Letterman presented Clinton with a similar opportunity. Asked what he thought of Sen. McCain, Clinton not only did what any decent person would do, (and what Limbaugh and his ilk have refused to do), the former President went above-and-beyond …

“I like him very much. I admire him. Look he lived — first of all, he served our country with valor and consistency for a long time. He comes from a family of military service. His father had a distinguished career, his grandfather, and he survived five and a half years of hell in that North Vietnamese prison camp … He and Hillary are much closer than I am because they’ve traveled the world with recalcitrant Republican senators trying to convince them that global warming was real … I like him. I admire him. I think he’s a — I don’t agree with him about Iraq, but I think he’s independent and does what he thinks is right and that’s about all you can ask from anybody.”

Sunday evening, presented with an opportunity to attack Hillary, several of the debating GOP candidates jumped at the chance. McCain was far more circumspect.

Striking a gracious note, McCain event went so far as to say, “I know and respect Sen. Clinton,” using her professional title when Giuliani and Romney called her only by her widely-used first name.

While his refusal to tell the Republican activists in attendance what they wanted to hear kept some in the audience sitting on their hands, McCain’s next statement brought them to their feet.

Finding a way to marry a soft Clinton jab with his fiscal conservative credentials and Vietnam war record, McCain pointed out that the New Yorker had sought to include an earmark for a Woodstock museum …

Next, of course, McCain made a remark about Woodstock that earned him the belly-laugh of the night, but in doing so he did not question nor attack the character of Sen. Clinton. Much as the latter’s husband noted how he disagreed with McCain on Iraq, McCain made it clear he disagreed with the Senator from New York on a certain porkish-earmark. However, in both cases, both men couched their disagreement in terms of clear respect.

Regular readers already know I’m fond of both Bill and John. But I raise this two-part example not to gratuitously promote either man. Rather, I raise it to help kick-off an exercise, one that will attempt to learn from and build on their collective example. Specifically, starting today, I’m on the prowl for Progressives/Democrats who will say “one good thing” about their counterparts across the aisle, and Conservatives/Republicans who will do the same. These examples of “one good thing” need not come from Washington. To the contrary, they can come from anywhere — including (and in particular) from you.

Like me, other readers of and writers for this site frequently bemoan the nastiness of political discourse in these United States, not the least of which we see in the blogosphere’s mad-dash mudslinging. Here’s a chance to do something about it, to do something more than “bemoan,” to directly contribute to a more civilized refrain.

Net: If you lean progressive and catch a conservative in the act of doing “one good thing,” or if you lean conservative and spot a similar act by a progressive … drop me a line. I’ll then source the information, compile it with other found or submitted evidence, and share the results. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, others (outside this space) will follow suit.

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