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Respect the tantrum

James Napier | Sunday, September 20, 2009

To put it politely, I was not what you would call an agreeable child. If I happened to dislike something, you could be sure that a temper tantrum was soon to follow. Once, when my parents bought pancakes for everyone but me, I venomously demanded of them “Why you no buy me pancakes!” Such was the eloquence of a four-year-old. Until recently, I had been rather embarrassed by my childhood antics. However, recent events have proven that my behavior may not have been so misplaced after all. Politicians seem to be betting that a well placed tantrum can earn them more than a few delicious pancake morsels.

A recent example of this amazing new political stratagem occurred just days before the anniversary of 9/11 when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, yelled “You lie” in the middle of President Barack Obama’s address to Congress. I cannot agree more with Mr. Wilson’s sentiment or behavior. Just because Mr. Obama is the president does not mean he should be able to give a speech in the United States Congress without being harassed. Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson made a terrible blunder afterwards when he apologized for his remarks. This nation is in a fight for its soul – a fight it must not lose. Occasionally, these dark times necessitate silencing political opponents. Even if that opponent is the president himself. After all, haven’t you heard how un-American so many Americans have become?

Unfortunately, Democrats have responded extremely well to Mr. Wilson’s heroic stance. Understanding the power of well-placed indignation, Democrats recently voted to censure Mr. Wilson. It has even been suggested by some in the party that Wilson’s comments were racially motivated. Of course they were – any opposition to a black president must be racially motivated, especially if the racist in question is from the South. I may not agree with Democrats concerning several major issues but even I can admit when they have made a significant accomplishment. Censuring the racist Mr. Wilson for his refusal to apologize in front of Congress was the only moral solution – even if Mr. Wilson had personally called the White House to apologize. We can all learn from the moral lesson the Democrats are trying to teach.

Of course, this whole incident was only a side show to the general debate over healthcare reform currently tearing apart the nation. Thankfully, both sides have shown just as much class in the general debate of the issue as they did in the “Wilson Affair.” Personally, I am very torn on the issue of health care reform because both sides make such fantastic arguments. Censuring and personal attacks are only the tip of the arsenal wielded by America’s politicians and pundits. On the one hand, Democrats have made it quite clear that their plan will bring about change while the Republicans only want more of the same. Republicans, on the other hand, argue an increase in government-provided healthcare will lead to death panels and socialism. These are well versed arguments by any measure.

As successful as these fits of rage and indignation have been, I fear it has not been enough. I still occasionally come across reasoned, well-balanced arguments. It is not that I am against logic or facts; far from it. Rather, I have logically concluded that the only rational argument is one which is irrational. Thus, the tantrum is the perfect political weapon. It is punchy, succinct and memorable. With this enlightened reasoning, I would suggest that the only problem is that the tantrums have not gone far enough.

As one who prides himself in a severe lack of maturity, I can offer some excellent insight which may benefit American politics. Mere sound bites of Nazi-calling and political maneuvering may not always obtain the desired goals. When words fail, kick, scream and cry. In short, act like someone who did not get his fair share of some delicious pancakes. I can say from personal experience: temper tantrums always work. Has anyone ever refused the desires of a tempestuous four-year-old?

James Napier is a junior history major. He can be contacted at jnapier@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.