Reginald Rose, together with Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefsky, formed the liberal writing troika that created some of the most memorable and important dramatic works of the live television era. None were better than Rose’s “Twelve Angry Men,” a unique, brilliant, real-time portrayal of ordinary men trying to wend their ways through their own limitations and biases to achieve justice under the law. Among its memorable characters is the bigot in the room, a nasty, hate-filled man who ultimately explodes in a rant against the defendant in a murder case, a member of some minority group—Rose never tells us which, because it doesn’t make any difference which. The bigot, Juror 10, says in part…
“…If somebody gets killed, so somebody killed. They don’t care…oh, sure, there are good things about them. Look, I’d be the first one to say that. I’ve known some who were okay, but that’s the exception.”
Rose, who was a Jew, knew that kind of rhetoric well, the condescending, sneering faint praise of the hate-monger. I wonder what Mr. Rose, whom I once had the pleasure of speaking to, would have said about a U.S. President who had pledged to reject the “politics of divisiveness and hate,” and went on to say this to a partisan audience, as Barack Obama did yesterday:
“And I do believe that there are well-meaning Republicans out there who care about their kids just as passionately as we do.”
Other commentators have focused on other outrages in the President’s shameful lie and scandal tour to promote gun control legislation, when his attentions should be elsewhere. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker downgraded a previous piece of misinformation Obama used last month to a lie (Obama keeps saying that 40% of gun sales lack background checks) because it isn’t true, can’t be verified, and Obama knows it’s misleading. Glenn Reynolds and others noted that the President said that the Newtown shooter used a “fully automatic weapon,” which is untrue, and suggested that he, like most of the anti-gun politicians and talking heads, doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, and doesn’t care, as long as the rhetoric frightens enough people. I am disappointed in these, but after the last two months I have come to expect no better.
The statement about Republicans, however, is despicable. It is full-bore hate mongering, representing political opposition as less than human, evil, without human feelings. Not all of them, of course—oh, no. Oh, sure, there are good things about Republicans. He’d be the first one to say that. He’s known some who were okay—you know, who cared about their kids—but that’s the exception.
Was my father, a lifelong Republican, one of those rare, well-meaning Republicans who care about kids just as passionately as you and the good people do, Mr. President? I will not even bother to point out, as so many have, that gun control is not about protecting kids. We might as well have elected Jim Carrey as President: that’s what he thinks it’s about too. But he is apparently an idiot.
Mitt Romney lost the election to Obama in part because the press and Obama’s minions were adept at portraying a callous remark made in a partisan setting as a litmus test on the candidate’s attitudes. Using that standard to judge Obama’s statement, I have to judge the President contemptible, and a disgrace to his office and the ideals he claimed, falsely to represent. His words show him to be a petty hate-monger and a Machiavellian leader who seeks to divide by demonizing those who oppose him, and the words show him to be a hypocrite as well. This was the President who was much praised, including here, for saying this in the wake of the Tuscon shooting in 2010:
“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds….But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together…If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”
Who was the man who spoke those healing, wise words?
Well, we know now: he was a manipulative phony.
I am disgusted with him.