In general, I am a proponent of decorum and civility—particularly, in the public sphere. In these pages, I have voiced my displeasure with breaches of decorum like that of Rep. Joe Wilson when he shouted at the President. And, though this blog has a progressive slant, my ire in this respect is non-partisan or, perhaps, bipartisan. Which brings me to the incident on Jimmy Fallon’s show last Monday.
For those of you who do not know, Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show last Monday. The Roots are the house band for Jimmy Fallon and, during their tenure, they have established a tradition of playing entrance music customized for particular guests. For Michele Bachmann, the Roots played “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Both Fallon and NBC have apologized since and, reportedly, the Roots were severely reprimanded.
Now, the Republican field has been subject to a fair amount of derision from this blog—and ole crazy eyes has been no exception. There is much to mock about these characters and few could argue that Bachmann in particular is deserved of kid gloves. She is indeed a liar—she emits falsehoods about the President, his policies, and their effects on thecountry seemingly with every breath. She is building a career on paranoia and sensationalism; she is a demagogue; and she has built her career on terrorizing the American people into voting for her out of fear. Her attacks on the President are unsupported—indeed, unsupportable—and one could be forgiven for wishing upon her turnabout as fair play.
Yet, Bachmann is a member of Congress and a candidate for the Presidency. Estimably, she has dedicated her life to public service—even if she does not honor it as such. She served as an attorney for the IRS and now she serves in Congress. That dedication alone is worthy of respect. What’s more, though, she was invited to be a guest on the Jimmy Fallon show. The bare rules of etiquette and hospitality dictate that she be accorded respect on not be subject to insult by her hosts. Like it or not, the Roots, in the employ of NBC, were her hosts. Worse, they did not challenge her on the veracity of particular statements, they did not engage her in debate, they did not give her an opportunity to respond. No, she was made the butt of a joke she likely did not even understand (this Editor doubts that Rep. Bachmann was able to recognize the song, let alone identify its name to decode the insult). Certainly, anyone who survived high school can sympathize with this scenario.
This Editor has no love lost for Rep. Bachmann. But he believes the behavior of the Roots late Monday night to be abhorrent. He would rather like a great deal more civility in American politics—this desire extends to Michele Bachmann even if she is unlikely to behave civilly herself and will instead continue to peddle lies and misrepresentations about the President.