Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Praying People to Death

This is how badly this nation's political dialogue has been poisoned by the extreme right.

For those of you who didn't click the link, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is saying that the American people "oughta pray that somebody can't make the vote tonight." He has refused to explain what he meant by that comment, and the discussion amongst the blogosphere is that he was insinuating that he hopes the ailing 92-year-old Robert Byrd (D-WV) who has been in and out of the hospital wouldn't be in the Senate chambers to vote on health care reform.

Now, plenty of legislators have missed votes before. Sometimes it's illness, or traffic, or weather. But on a vote of this magnitude, in a bitterly divided Senate, it's highly unlikely any Senator who wants to keep their job would miss out on a vote like this unless it was a serious illness, injury or death. While Coburn didn't directly invoke Byrd's name, his comment was irresponsible at best and incredibly cruel at worst.

Let me just state that again, just so it sinks in.

A United States Senator, representing the state of Oklahoma, is encouraging people to pray for ill will against one of his colleagues.

Now, say what you will about the allegations against Byrd. But you can't ignore this.

CALLER: "Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we
got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed
real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the
vote the other night.
How hard did you pray because I see one of
our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our
members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?"

Whether or not Coburn meant for voters to pray for Byrd's death, this person certainly took it that way. And people are actually now praying for other Senators to die so health care reform won't pass. This is considered acceptable political discourse today, at least according to Sen. John Barasso's (R-WY) complacency upon hearing what the caller said.

The intensity of the venom and vitriol in our political discourse today is astounding. It's getting bad out there, and there's so much hate and fear and misinformation getting out there that people aren't hearing the truth, or willing to hear the other side. This is a plea for all of us to stop, take a deep breath, love each other as American citizens, and pick up our debate and be civil about it.

There, better?

Conservatives can now feel free to flame away at everything I've just said.

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