Party politics and political shenanigans in Polk

Published 5:41 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

To the Editor:

Does anyone remember Bill Clinton when he wagged his finger at us and insisted, I never had sex with that woman, or Dick Cheney when he somberly pronounced that the failed economic policies of the Bush administration were not its fault, but, instead, the result of a global economic crisis that Bush immediately addressed so that the seeds of recovery were planted and then thwarted by the Democrats?

Or Chris Abril, Polk Countys recently disgraced sheriff, who insisted that he really was a good law enforcement officer who should be allowed his pension inasmuch as he had served so well for so long.

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Like so many politicians today, they actually believe what they tell us. It seems that they inhabit another moral universe apart from the rest of us, and, not surprisingly, they dont speak the same language.

The latest political shenanigans here in Polk County swirling around County Commissioner Warren Watsons decision to leave the Democratic Party and become unaffiliated might convince many of us that we perhaps live in the same universe after all.

Boards like those of county commissioners often tend to be more self-celebratory and self-righteous rather than self-critical or self-analytical. Just read the letters to the editor in the Tryon Daily Bulletin in early March for confirmation. In reality, any sign of genuine analysis or of remorse by a politician would risk having every statement taken down and used against you at some point.

Warren Watson made that initial mistake but Karl Rove didnt. Yet one searches in vain for anything that smacks of analysis or self-reproach in any of the comments offered by Renee McDermott, Cindy Walker, Ray Gasperson, or Jerry Hardvall, something more than just a litany of blame and justification.

Instead, all point to their achievements and productivity, a strange word for politicians to use, while dismissing those of others.

Political hypocrisy both large and small lies not in seeking truth or in any craving for honesty. A politician isnt a Greek Demosthenes swinging a lantern traveling down a dark path seeking truth and honesty. That would be foolish and folly at once. &bsp;

Instead, the role of a politician lies solely in justifying himself, his party, and his actions while blaming others. Thats much safer and more satisfying. Moreover, any politician who expresses any sympathy for a Warren Watson or any disgraced colleague should be tarred and feathered or at least shunned. Dick Cheney never embraced but only distanced himself from Scooter Libby after he became compromised. The same fate now awaits Watson.

What about Watsons assertion that, The whole system is corrupt and its corrupt at all levels? As analysis, it appears ill adapted and likely ill advised, perhaps more a product of frustration than perceived malfeasance.

Are our county commissioners corrupt? Their political party?&bsp; Not really.

As someone who closely studies both North Carolina and southern history, I have found few counties that have better and more conscientious representatives. Yet they have made too much of Watsons statement, turning it into a red herring issue, one that smells mightily and distracts from the real problems bedeviling Polk County.

It seems that our Commissioners dont like each other very much and that their egos and personalities get in the way of the countys business. The politics of personalities often trumps that of parties. Thats where real shenanigans take place. &bsp;

Lastly, surely those of us in the local electorate should expect more civility and decorum from our public officials both privately and publicly. That also goes for a general tendency of politicians to mislead, misdirect, obfuscate, spin, and even outright lie to us.

Every politician since Ronald Reagan has told us that theyre lowering our taxes and watching our monies even as our pocketbooks and common sense know otherwise. Weve had too much of that at the national level from the Clintons, Cheneys, Roves, and Obamas.

It seems unnecessary, unhelpful, and even perhaps a bit unethical for Polk County commissioners and party officials to relate and plumb the motives and ambitions of colleagues, real or imagined, to disclose personal and private emails and asides for public gain, and to relay back room comments and conduct to us all. Not only do we deserve more, but our commissioners do from each other as well.

Additionally, our politicians as well as all of us should practice a regular habit of honesty and openness, even if we have to fake it.

The solution to all this? Let me propose one first put forth by the English actor, Cary Grant. Frustrated and perplexed by American politics, Grant thought that, in the end, We should all just try to get along more and smell better.&bsp;&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;

Milton Ready