Over at Crosscut, real Ted Van Dyk laments the decline in public civility.
We face unacceptable losses of civility. The in-your-face insults characteristic of many blogs and even traditional media reflect a general loss of respect for each other. The old political dictum, “Tough on issues; soft on people,” has long since been breeched. How many angry print or on-line columns, broadcast commentaries, or political rants have you seen in recent months, flowing from mention of the names Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George W. Bush, Barney Frank or, locally, Tim Eyman? Not critiques of their policy views but insulting personal attacks and characterizations. The communications flowing from partisan political committees and true believing single-issue groups are often toxic.
Yeah… well… um… in your face, Van Dyk!
First of all, as our state’s best known purveyor of insulting personal attacks on Tim Eyman, I just want to calmly and maturely point out that he started it. If not for Eyman’s own infamous lack of civility, my tit for tat response would never have garnered so many headlines in return. As I explained at the time, in seeking to officially proclaim Eyman a “horse’s ass,” I was not making a mockery of the initiative process; rather, I was just pointing out the mockery that Eyman had already made of it. Eyman is a horse’s ass, and that’s the uncomfortable truth that made my initiative both funny and compelling.
Furthermore, as I have well demonstrated, it is possible to methodically and rationally critique one’s policies, while simultaneously indulging in personal attacks. Indeed, I’d wager that nobody has written more substantively and at greater length on the policy implications of Eyman’s various initiatives than I have over the past six years. Do I resort to name-calling and hyperbole from time to time? Sure. Timmy deserves it. But when it comes to a factual and substantive debate on tax structure issues, I consistently kick Eyman’s sound-bite-repeating equine ass. (Which, by the way, is why Tim won’t even make eye contact with me anymore, let alone engage me in live debate.)
Likewise, it is also possible to maintain an air of civility while, intentionally or not, consistently repeating the same pack of discredited lies, as Van Dyk has relentlessly done in opposing Sound Transit. I suppose Van Dyk might be offended by such bluntness of opinion, but I personally prefer rude truths to polite lies, and unlike him I strive never to conflate solemnity with seriousness, nor civility with being civic-minded.
No doubt Van Dyk pines for the oh-so-civil, bipartisan days when political operatives from both parties might deliver a suitcase full of $100 bills to Richard Nixon, but not me. For if that’s what civility looks like, I want nothing to do with it.