The Case for Civility, Class, and Not Being a Deliberate Jerk All the Time

In this ugly age of political discourse we’ve been heartened in the past week by one Republican candidate’s magnanimity in victory and another’s graciousness in defeat, and thus we temporarily hold out hope for our once Grand Old Party.
The first touching moment came during the National Broadcasting Company’s “Saturday Night Live” program, of all places. The show has satirically skewered even the most unobjectionable sorts of Republicans since it ridiculed the famously athletic and conventionally wise President Gerald Ford as a stumbling fool, and on the previous Saturday cast member Pete Davidson went on its “Weekend Update” segment to ridicule Republican Texas congressional nominee Dan Crenshaw’s eyepatch, saying that “he looks like a hit man in a porno movie.” It might be a good line if the eyepatch were a mere fashion statement, but as Davidson briefly acknowledged during the joke it was because former Navy Seal and Lt. Commander Crenshaw had lost an eye to an improvised explosive device during his third combat tour in Afghanistan, which killed a couple of his friends and fellow American warriors, and we were heartened to see that commentators on both the left and right agreed that the joke was in poor taste.
To his credit, and to the credit of the show, the smart-assed Davidson showed up on the “Weekend Update” segment of the past “Saturday Night Live” to offer an apparently sincere and quite fulsome apology on behalf of himself and the show. Davidson’s often amusing comic persona is that of an admittedly neurotic New Yorker, and he started by saying that “It will come as a huge shock to no one who knows me that I made a poor choice last week.” He also apologized to his mom for offending almost everyone in America, which led t9 one of the “Weekend Update” hosts getting a big laugh by agreeing that it must suck to be Davidson’s mom. Davidson then hoped that “if any good came of this, maybe it’s that for one day the left and right finally came together to agree on something, that I’m a dick.”
At that point Crenshaw himself sat down next to Davidson and said “D’ya think?,” which was probably the show’s biggest laugh line of the year. Davidson then introduced Crenshaw as a Naval Lt. Commander Navy Seal and congressman-elect and acknowledged his undeniable war heroism, then offered a personal and live-on-air apology, and Crenshaw then shook his hand and accepted the apology and told him that “we’re good.” Davidson and “Saturday Night Live” generously allowed Crenshaw a couple of jokes about Davidson’s looks, which Crenshaw took well advantage of in a good-natured way. Crenshaw then acknowledged the heroism of that smart-assed Davidson’s father, a New York City firefighter who died trying to save others in the September 11th terror attacks on the Twin Towers, and gave a nice brief talk about Americans coming together despite their differences.
The reviews were boffo from both the left and the right, and the YouTube video of the segment had more than seven million viewers the last time we checked, and thus a new Republican star was born. Crenshaw’s a pretty-hard line Republican on taxes and regulation and the military and the rest of the traditional Republican agenda as far we can tell, but he’s also distanced himself from Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and Democrats and other scary Others, and he’s a telegenically handsome fellow with a manly beard and Navy Seal physique who could clearly whip Davidson or even Trump in a fair bar fight even with one eye, and that eyepatch only enhances his sensitive machismo appeal, so given his good-natured sense of humor he might just be the template for a Republican renaissance.
We were also impressed by the performance of Arizona’s Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally, who has some pretty impressive military credentials of her own as one of America’s first female combat jet pilots and a challenger in the courts to America’s policy of making American servicewomen obey Sharia law regarding women’s dress in Muslim countries, but nonetheless was defeated by a centrist Democratic woman with her own compelling autobiography of childhood homelessness and overcoming odds.
That race was exceedingly close and hotly contested, but when Arizona’s Republican establishment followed the law and the vote counts and declared Democratic nominee Krysten Sinema the winner McSally and her dog Boomer gave such a gracious concession speech that it became a YouTube hit and put her in good position to win the seat of dearly departed maverick Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in just two years. The formerly centrist McSally’s belated and obviously insincere attempts to align herself with Trump didn’t serve her well in this election in usually Republican Arizona, when she was trying to replacing retiring incumbent and Trump critic Sen. Jeff Flake, but we have hope that she’ll do well in a couple of years when she tries to replace the recently deceased but bona fide war hero and outspoken Trump critic and “guy who got caught” McCain in that reliably old-fashioned Republican state of Arizona.
In the meantime, the take-no-prisoners and shoot-the-stragglers and never concede defeat or admit a mistake style of Trump’s Republican party will probably prevail. That party’s not lately getting any boffo reviews from both the left and right, though, and it seems to have taken a licking in the past midterm elections, but its fans are satisfied that at least it never concedes defeat or acknowledges a mistake. They’re currently spinning conspiracy theories about the inevitably close races down in wacky Florida, even though a scrupulously legal counting of the votes will probably yield Republican victories there, which would be all the more impressive without all the conspiracy theories.
In the long run, though, we believe the Grand Old Party would probably do better with magnanimity in victory and graciousness in defeat and a good-natured sense of humor along the way.

— Bud Norman

What’s Happened Since Last Tuesday

The midterm elections were held way back last Tuesday, which seems an awfully long time ago, yet in some states around the country the results weren’t known until Monday, and of course in the great yet undeniably wacky state of Florida the votes are still being counted and hotly contested.
Not so long ago elections were almost always settled by at least the next Wednesday afternoon, but that was before the newfangled rules about vote-by-mail and provisional ballots and other get-out-the-vote innovations. We used to oppose these bleeding heart reforms on an old-fashioned Republican principle that voting should involve the small patriotic sacrifice of registering down at the county hall showing up at the polls come rain or shine, as it tends to keep out the riff-raff, but nowadays we have some aging and still patriotic parents who voted by mail because a trip to a polling place ad a wait in line is a rather onerous imposition, so we suppose we’ll put up the new rules so long as they are strictly enforced according the letter of the law, no matter how it turns out.
So far all that meticulous vote-counting hasn’t turned out well for the Republicans. On election night the Fox News Network was the first to call a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, all the other networks confirmed that a few cautious hours later, and since then the Democrats have padded that majority with several more seats, including one held by the unabashedly pro-Trump and pro-Russian Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a usually reliable district of suburban southern California. On election night Republican senatorial nominee Martha McSally was leading Democratic nominee Krysten Simena, which gave the Republicans some brief bragging rights about their slightly padded slim majority in the Senate races where they should have done better, but by Monday afternoon McSally and her cute dog Boomer were giving an endearingly gracious concession speech with best wishes to her victorious Democratic opponent.
The Republicans might yet win the hotly-contested and already-litigated races for governor and senator down in the great yet undeniably wacky state of Florida, but no matter how it turns out we aren’t expecting any gracious concession speeches. So far as we can tell from this distance the Democrats running the show in Florida’s astoundingly populous and reliably Democratic Broward County areas usual utterly inept, but we’ve not yet heard any convincing evidence from President Donald Trump or any other Republican conspiracy-theorists that they’re corrupt. We’re hopeful
that those wonderful if wacky Floridians will have every one of their votes more or less counted accurately, and from this distance we figure the Republicans will win if that happens, and should be glad to have their victory approved by the courts and all objective observers, but the races are always so close down there that we’re not expecting any comity on either side not matter how it turns out.
Even so, we’re pleased to note that crucial institutions and rules of law and old-fashioned political traditions seem to persist in most places. That Arizona senate race featured an impressive centrist Republican against an impressive centrist Democrat vying to be the state’s first woman senator for the reliably Republican state of arch-conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater and swing-vote Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and maverick Sen. John McCain. We’re sure all those iconic Republican Arizonans would be proud that their Republican-run and law-and-order state counted all the votes, even if it did mean a damned Democrat won a Senate seat, and that their candidate showed such class in defeat.
The Republicans lost a senate seat in Arizona and a House seat and a governorship in Kansas, along with losses in several reliably Republican districts of such Democratic states as California and suburban districts everywhere, including some crucial swing states, but they should be glad the votes are all being counted and that old-fashioned Republicans are signing off on it,and upholding the party’s law-and-order reputation. Sooner or later, and we’re hoping sooner rather than later, that will work out for them.

— Bud Norman