Friday, January 10, 2014

Resolving To Be Positive

As another frustrating week filled with arrogant political bullies like Gov. Chris Christie, maddeningly selfish Republicans in Congress, and crazy commenters from all over the political spectrum comes to a close, we thought it might be good to step back and get a little perspective today.

This week, our Editor-In-Chief, Paul Fell, had a great birthday present, in his extended holiday vacation. Next week, our Copy Editor, Amy, will begin her sabbatical as she gives birth to her second child. In short, some very important and positive things are going on outside of the pixels you read here every weekday.

Frankly, most Americans could use to concentrate on more of those kinds of positive experiences in life - a fact we were reminded of yesterday by Guardian writer Jill Filipovic, courtesy of Ryan Cooper over at Greg Sargent's Plum Line.

Filipovic wrote a short column about her New Years resolution for 2014 - an idea initially that might make most experienced members of the media click right past her column. As Ryan Cooper pointed out, and as Filipovic thoroughly reminded us, we could all use to be a bit more kind, generous, and humble online - especially in our political discussions.

The dialogue over extending long-term unemployment insurance going on in Congress is a perfect example of a discussion that needs a bit more generosity. After Sen. Reid and Democrats offered Senate Republicans what the Republicans had said they wanted? Republicans refused the Democrats offer, placing the jobless bill into a procedural black hole, while yanking hope away from more than a million Americans.

Gov. Chris Christie was generating his own kind of frustrating discussions yesterday, after giving a 108 minute press conference, reminiscent of a scene from the TV show "The West Wing." In that press conference, Christie repeatedly insisted that he knew nothing of the traffic blockade ordered by someone in his administration last September, in Fort Lee, just across the Hudson from Manhattan.

In a different, less-connected time, maybe there are those who would have believed the governor. After all, just over two weeks ago, Gov. Christie claimed his staff had given him a "full briefing" on what some are now calling "Bridgegate."

In today's world though, we simply can't believe the Governor that easily. There are just too many questions, ones like those Josh Barro of Business Insider asked - which were some of the exact same questions our own staff had. For example, how could Christie not know what was going on at the George Washington bridge? The traffic jam was right before the 9/11 anniversary, on the busiest bridge in the world, leading directly from New Jersey into Manhattan. It also went on for FOUR days. In our hyper-connected modern world, how does a person in Gov. Christie's position NOT know a problem like that is going on? It's hard for us to believe Gov. Christie isn't either a very disconnected manager of people or a very incompetent storyteller.

Either way, in light of Ms. Filipovic's suggestion, we've resolved not to be as harsh in our language today about either Gov. Christie or the Republicans in Congress as otherwise we might have been.

For the sake of those like the screaming tea partiers, Congressional Republicans,  or Gov. Christie, people who disagree with us might hope that we succeed far into this year with our collective New Year's resolution for comity.

Just don't bet on us succeeding.