Tom Friedman Awakens to the Dangers of Incivility

You can add Thomas Friedman to the long list of pundits who are now quite concerned about the state of political discourse in America and of critics of the president who question his legitimacy. Friedman worries:

I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination. . . . [We face] a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest. We can’t change this overnight, but what we can change, and must change, is people crossing the line between criticizing the president and tacitly encouraging the unthinkable and the unforgivable.

I’ve written before about the importance of civility in public discourse and the need for what has been called the “etiquette of democracy.” One question, though: When George W. Bush was being routinely savaged by those on the Left—including prominent Democrats like Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Harry Reid—where were those Friedman columns of ringing condemnation? I don’t recall them; perhaps you do.

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Tom Friedman Awakens to the Dangers of Incivility

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