I spent several long hours on the road yesterday, driving to a pre-construction meeting some 300 miles from my office to a job site near the southeast corner of Arizona bordering New (and old) Mexico. Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Rush and Hannity kept me company. As I drove, I wondered how Dave Carter manages to do this every day. The back gets stiff, the legs get restless and the mind drifts. If it weren’t for those 44 oz. Diet Dews keeping me alert (and beckoning the occasional stop), I’d probably seize up or fall asleep and drive off the road.
Yesterday’s conservative topic du jour was the “Romney Kills Woman With Cancer” advertisement. All agreed that this was a serially dishonest, slanderous, horrific attack; a low blow of unfathomable depth. If such an allegation were made during our founders’ day, the sides would pick seconds and decide between swords or pistols. But that is not what we do today. So the real question of the day was, what do we do? What should the reaction be to this shocking affront?
Someone suggested marching Ann Romney in front of the cameras to counter by cooing about Mitt’s abiding comfort during her own bout with cancer. An inside campaign spokeswoman suggested that if the stricken woman had lived in Massachusetts, she would have had insurance (this particular comment nearly caused mass seizures among the talking heads).
There was no consensus; should we aggressively counter this slander or ignore it? Does addressing it serve the opponent’s purpose and deflect the political conversation away from Obama’s record? Does ignoring it somehow validate the claims? There was enough consternation among the talkerati to fill the new Cowboy Stadium.
And then I stumbled on the answer: bring back shame.
Shame – you remember it, right? Shame was the general contempt heaped upon those who lacked judgment, made poor choices or lacked character. Remember when you were a kid and the junior high school assistant principal dished out giant portions of it every day? “Is that how your parents taught you to act? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
We used to get it all the time. Uncle Bill, who could never keep a job, showed up once or twice a year with a big smile to drink and party, but it always ended in whispered requests for help (that is, money), which was given, but not nearly enough. Silent, furrowed brows of shame were cast upon him, but the words were never said.
Addictions were shameful. Divorce – a shame. Children out of wedlock? A shame. Public assistance and unemployment – a shame.
There was lots of shame going around in those days. Everyone saw it and felt it. It was even a little shameful to be poor, which we were, but this shame could be compensated for with hard work. Any work was good work. Dirt -- on clothes, under fingernails, behind ears -- was shameful unless earned in a hard day’s work. Life, even among those of us struggling to get by, who lived in the projects or in a cold flat tenement, was about the maintenance of pride and dignity -- and avoiding shame. We were guided by a simple rule: always do the best you can and you will never be ashamed.
In the past 50 years, the left has been attempting to purge shame from American life. There is no better evidence of this than this latest anti-Romney ad. So let’s point out the obvious regarding this ad: It is shameful. Those who had a hand in it are worthy of contempt. They showed a reckless lack of good judgment. They showed a complete lack of character. What kind of people would assemble such an egregious cascade of lies and slander? Are these the kinds of people you want at the wheel of federal authority?