Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Right Kind Of Attention

As we've discussed the news of this past week - and truthfully much of this political season - with our staff, and others, the events of the day keep bringing up a certain childhood memory for one of our staff members.

As a child, this staffer would occasionally throw a doozy of a temper tantrum, a real get-on-the-ground-and-kick-your-heels affair. After our staffer's mother had yanked the child up, and disciplined our colorful colleague accordingly, "Staffer Mom" would sit our young hothead down and explain what the display of unfocused anger had accomplished.

"If you were attempting to get my attention, you got it," she'd say. "But it's the WRONG kind of attention."

In the same way, we've looked at many of our friends and professional contacts on the right over the last year or so, and often remarked, "I understand you like the Tea Partiers because they get you attention in the media - but it's the wrong kind of attention." That's not just our opinion. The most recent NBC/WSJ poll confirms that many in the Republican party feel the Tea Party has been good for getting them attention - even if they also think many on the far right are crazy.

We were also reminded yesterday of the power of positive attention. Even in the midst of the arrogant GOP blocking Federal funds for jobs, and the cowardly Democrats putting off the debate on tax cuts until after November's elections, positive attention still made a difference on Wednesday. The right kind of attention - cooperative, sensible, even-tempered, methodical attention - accomplished the difficult, yet worthwhile, bipartisan passage in the House of Representatives of the 9/11 Responders Health Care Bill. It's a simple bill, designed to cover the ongoing medical treatment of those who - when everyone else ran away from the World Trade Center on that September day - ran TOWARDS the burning and eventually, collapsing buildings.

Some Americans are also hoping for more of the right kind of attention this Saturday, in Washington, D.C., as the "One Nation Working Together" march meets on the Washington Mall.

Like the far-right tea party meeting hosted by Glenn Beck a few weeks ago, in the same location, the event this weekend is a combination of groups who are also angry with our government. Unlike the Tea Partiers, however, the many diverse groups hosting this Saturday's march aren't using fear, intimidation, and anger to get the attention of our leaders and media.

Instead, this group is planning on peacefully yet firmly demonstrating their commitment to continue trying to find common ground with other Americans, in order to solve the problems of our nation.

That's the correct kind of attention - something our country could use a whole lot more of.

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