Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rage and Wisdom

I am always amazed when I see Ann Coulter on television. I wonder how someone so beautiful can be so vitriolic and invidious. Her perceived snub by the Today Show yesterday invoked the Coulter that has, whether good or bad, made her a best-selling author and conservative icon when she had her moment on the aforementioned show this morning. Her rage against those who oppose her political thought process is unbridled and unrepentant.

She says things that I could not get away with in the political process. As a former elected official, I know there are certain ways you have to make your point without being overtly abrasive and disrespectful. Even more so as an African-American male who is very opinionated. But Coulter is rewarded by her supporters and even encouraged to attack unmercifully again and again.

I have many Republican friends whom I disagree with on a regular basis, but our discussions have rarely degenerated to the conversation I could only imagine would happen if I encountered Coulter. The question in my mind becomes what is the difference between Coulter and say, Rev. Jeremiah Wright? In this time of hopeful expectations and a call for national renewal, hateful political opinion, on either side, should be put on the back burner.

Which leads me to the moment of wisdom. At the request of President-elect Obama, James Earl Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and President Bush will have lunch together with Obama today. It is a great moment for former U.S. Presidents and the current president to basically have an informal sit-down with the next president.

If I was in the room, there would be so many questions I would want to ask, but probably would not have enough time. However, it opens the door for those former leaders to consult frequently with the 44th President of the United States as he grapples with the worst economic situation in decades, as well as a very politically unstable world.

In reality, the final decision on any matter will lie with Obama for the next four years, but to invoke the tradition of tapping the wisdom of the elders is a stroke of genius. It is a shame that it has not occurred more often, but I hope that every new occupant of the White House will carry that tradition on, because as mortals we know that our elders will not be able to impart that wisdom forever.

In summation, disagree without being disagreeable and summon the wisdom of those who have been down the road before. From a political perspective, you cannot go wrong with that philosophy.