On Giving the Devil His (or Her) Due

Mindless Partisanship: Years ago, I had a problem with the drinking of someone close to me. In my immaturity, I rejected everything this person did. Later, with a bit of recovery of my own, I learned to distinguish the behavior I didn't like from other behavior that was quite admirable. Political partisans, the worst of them anyway, don't seem to be able to do this. In the '90s, some partisan Republicans and Conservatives took such a bitter dislike to Bill Clinton, they couldn't give him credit for his obvious talents, his accomplishments, or for doing things they might otherwise have agreed with. Today, on the other side, partisan Democrats and progressives have such a bitter dislike of George Bush that they can't acknowledge his personal assets, accomplishments, or positions that they might otherwise agree with. In truth, while policy differences between the President and Democrats are significant, the personal animosity seems not only uncalled for but in some cases a rather blatant expression of religious anti-Christian bigotry. Partisan Republicans complain about Democratic "hatred" of the President--and seem to have no appreciation for the way they treated President Clinton--or, for that matter, for the way they talk today about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. It seems to me that a good exercise in maturity--and intellectual honesty--is to practice giving credit to a political adversary for his or her attributes, accomplishments, and positions that you might agree with. Wile E.

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