Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Overstating it a bit

It is one of the modern tenets of HillcrestBlog to refrain from politics for a variety of reasons.  This is not to say that I do not have political opinions; to the contrary, I am very opinionated.  But that's not the direction I want this blog to take.  If you want some good political bloggage, trust me, its out there, whatever your politics. That being said, I want to shortly discuss something that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives said yesterday in order to make a broader point. 

Specifically, John Boehner of Ohio said this, in relation to the possibility that Barack Obama may be reelected to the Presidency this November:

The president’s economic policies have failed. I would argue they actually have made things worse. And as a result, the president has turned to the politics of envy and division...
America can’t live for four more years with Barack Obama as president. His policies will turn America in a direction that we may never recover from...
It’s sending America down a path that will look a lot like what we see in Europe: A big social welfare state, high unemployment, slow economic growth and a government that is overly large.
If you have a government that can give you everything that you want, you have a government that can take everything that you have.
I excerpted the entire passage from this FOX News interview to give the quote some context, but the specific sentence I'm focusing on I've highlighted in bold print.

"That we may never recover from." 

Seriously?  I mean, does he really mean that? 

Not to get too bogged down in historical analysis, but this nation has recovered from some very trying times.  There's the whole dissolution of the Union thing, a couple of World Wars, a Great Depression, several Presidential assassinations, September 11, 2001 -- you know, really big freaking happenings that tore the fabric of our nation.  But after each one, the nation recovered and moved forward. 

Now, you might be of a mind that President Obama's economic policies are indeed quite destructive.  That is your opinion and you are absolutely entitled to it.  But does Speaker Boehner really believe the fallout from those economic policies would be worse than the Great Depression, where unemployment increased 607% from 1929 to 1932?  Or any worse than the United State's own death toll from World War Two -- 400,000 citizens?  Or the Civil War -- 620,000 military deaths?

I guess what bugs me the most is this use of extreme hyperbole in what should be real-world discussions about real-world issues.  Statements like Boehner's only serve to inflame and exaggerate for the benefit of one's own opinion to the point where you cannot even take it seriously.  And a Presidential Election should be taken seriously, especially when it is being commented on by the person third in the line of succession to the Presidency itself.  If Boehner had said something like "economic policies that will take us several years to recover from," well, OK.  Hell, even if he said "a generation," I would be OK with that.  Whether or not you believe that or not, at least that statement has some real-world tether, because although the United States did in fact emerge from the Great Depression, it did take several years, indeed over a decade. 

Ultimately, the United States is a strong, strong nation -- so strong that any one President's economic policies are not going to doom it, much less forever.  The nation has resisted schism and conquered foes and met challenges far greater than the ones Speaker Boehner portends would be so terrible from our current President.  I just think that, given his position in the government and the fact that he has to know that his statement is demonstrably false, that his comments should reflect that and should avoid the sky-is-falling rhetoric that seems so pervasive during the election season.

And Democrats, if one of you says something similarly over-the-top, shame on you as well.

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