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Let's be civil

POSTED: February 17, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Television pioneer Art Linkletter used to do a popular segment called “Kids Say the Darnest Things.” This year’s Republican presidential primary has proved you don’t have to be a kid to say the darnest things.
A recent Associated Press story quoted a 75-year-old real estate broker in Florida on her thoughts about President Barack Obama.
“He’s a socialist. He’s no better than Castro,” she told a reporter.
Beyond the obvious — that this woman is in desperate need of a refresher course in political science — her comparison between the president and a man who has systematically denied the citizens of Cuba the rights and privileges we enjoy here is simply ludicrous. Unfortunately, it’s one Republicans, especially those on the far right, continue to encourage.
The most sensible thing we’ve heard lately came during one of the Sunday morning news shows. “President Obama has been compared to Joseph Stalin and Jimmy Carter. He can’t be both,” observed a panelist. For sure.
Our own Tim Huelskamp, serving his first term as U.S. Congressman from the Big First District, can’t seem to make up his mind. But make no mistake. Whatever President Obama is, it’s bad for the country. Did we say bad? How about positively cataclysmic? President Obama is so dangerous, in fact, that Huelskamp can’t even bring himself to call him by his title. The president is always referred to in Huelskamp’s news releases as simply “Obama.” 
Whatever happened to showing respect for the office?
Of course, Democrats say dumb things, too, but somehow they don’t seem quite as comfortable with hyperbole as the other side of the aisle. Think Newt Gingrich. Or Sarah Palin. Or Michelle Bachman.
This might all be humourous if we didn’t have so many adults — at least in years — out there making ordinary citizens feel as if the country is about to go over a cliff. Given the economy, the concerns over our children’s futures and any number of things, people are worried enough. They don’t need to be scared, especially when it’s only to serve someone’s political agenda. Not to mention that the people who compare President Obama to Castro or Stalin or Hitler are just plain uninformed. Our best advice to them — get a grip or, better yet, read a book.
So let’s tone down the rhetoric. There really is a place in modern-day politics for civility. It was cute when Art Linkletter’s kids said the darnest things. It’s not quite so cute when “the kids” are adults.

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