WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At one time in the history of our grand republic, political discourse was a much more civil endeavor. While politicians have disagreed, debated, argued and even on occasion, fought on the floor of Congress, there has generally been a certain level of decorum between the two major political parties and among the three branches of government. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case -- and it's hurting our country.
"Mr. President, congratulations. You're a tough adversary," Tip O'Neill said in a 1981 telephone call to President Ronald Reagan after Congress voted to approve the President's economic package. The very liberal Mr. O'Neill had strenuously opposed the Reagan tax cuts, but the speaker went on to say, "I want to wish you all the success in the world."
Who in today's Democrat party would offer such words to President Bush? Who on "the Hill" -- which liberal pundit -- what Democrat party leader -- would adhere to what once was an unwritten rule of mutual respect between political rivals? Extremists in today's Democrat Party are so full of anger that even the horrific devastation and human suffering brought on by Hurricane Katrina have failed to produce any discernible detente in their torrent of viscera.
Katrina has created a humanitarian crisis worse than any natural disaster in U.S. history. Yet, while hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are mourning dead family and friends and trying to comprehend their losses in the flooded streets, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is blaming Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi, and the GOP for the devastation caused by the hurricane.
"Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged," read Kennedy's post on Ariana Huffington's anti-Bush website. The eco-evangelist went on to suggest to his disciples that God may have been offended by a memorandum Barbour -- former Chairman of the Republican Party -- had written to President Bush about flaws in the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on global warming. "Perhaps," Kennedy wrote, "it was Barbour's memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings (sic) for the Mississippi coast."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.