Our leaders should regularly go before the legislature and the people, and have to take whatever questions are thrown their way, without the help of a press agent or an earpiece. "Question Period" in the Canadian House of Commons works fine, and it helps inform the public; maybe we should try it!
Now, to make it work, the guy on stage must get equal time to reply to the audience as well. Half the time the audience can shout, half the time the public official gets to reply. What could be more fair?
I urge this after having first gotten angry at Joe "the Mouth" Wilson shouting "You Lie!" during the President's joint address to Congress. It was a rudeness never before seen in Congress; previously Congresses have applauded and boo'd but never before had a guest speaker been heckled like that.
Some Wilson fans point out that once a pro-slavery member of Congress beat up another one with a stick, and Dick Cheney loved to use the F-word. I'm really not sure what kind of idiot could possibly think that those are points in their favor.But after reading a fine article by Denny Westneat, I've rethought things. We need more of noisy dialogue, not less, because when you have facts and reason on your side, you need fear no heckling; you just have to be willing and able to hit back, hard and fast.
Teabaggers want it all their way; when they were in power, they wouldn't let liberals even hold hearings. The contemptible swine who ran the Republican Congresses were too cowardly to allow the other side a chance. I'm not saying we should forgive that; we definitely should not forget it.
But we should have faith that taking the high road works. Let the jackals howl at the lion; Obama can handle them, as he did Wilson, with a cheerful sneer. Let them shake their verbal fists in impotent fury; we can then dispatch them with equal passion, and logic and reason besides.
Representative Barney Frank showed how it's done:
Meanspirited, stupid heckling like Wilson and his teabagging buddies practice, show We The People that they are mere jackals; they lost in November for a reason and we WANT to let them remind us what that reason is.
In Robert Lewis Stephenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", the kindly Dr. Jekyll invented a potion to let out all his negative energy;it turned him into the ruthless, angry and murderous Mr. Hyde. We need the Republican Jekylls to keep heckling, let it out, show the world who and what they are: quivering bundles of rage, lacking facts or reason.Of course, there are limits. For example, urging unstable people to commit acts of violence is too far, and that's a line that some reichwingers have crossed. However, you'll notice that their leaders shy away, edging up to the line and hoping some of their followers will cross it, but not wanting to put themselves at risk. Like Dick Cheney, they have "other priorities".
But, Timothy McVeigh-wannabes aside, let's have more heckling. Don't let the HATEtriots pretend to be kindly Dr. Jekyll. Let them express their inner Hyde, and have faith in the good sense and good hearts of the vast majority of our fellow citizens.
(With apologies to the delightfully chaotic magpies Heckle & Jeckyll)