But in the larger scheme of things, civility does matter -- not only because it's the right way to behave, but because it's more effective. Ronald Reagan's wit, largeness of spirit and good cheer better serves conservative principles than angry, confrontational rhetoric.
Two recent pieces offer some worthwhile insights on the topic of deportment in public debate. One is Pete Wehner's piece in Commentary; the other is John Sununu's in the Boston Globe.
It is hard to be patient and temperate in light of some of the unfair and petty attacks often launched at conservatives by the likes of Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann and Michael Kinsley. I am the first to admit that I certainly fall far short in terms of writing and speaking to the standards required of all of us who seek to follow the Golden Rule.
But those of us who answer to a "higher authority" than the mere gods of political fortune are duty-bound to try. The Wehner and Sununu articles are good jumping-off points.