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Negative campaigning and name-calling hard to forget and forgive

November 15, 2006|by BILL KOHLER

Please tell me I wasn't the only one who was a little nauseated by the photos of President Bush and future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi making nice at the White House last week.

Please tell me I'm not alone. Please tell me that someone besides us skeptical, sometimes cynical journalists found it a bit disturbing that these two political rivals - as seemingly different as Florida and Antarctica, as opposed as Cowboys and Redskins fans - could bury the hatchet and make nice after a mind-numbingly mean and nasty midterm election.

Please tell me that Democrats and Republicans are not really trying to kiss and make up and forget that the past three months of negative campaigning and name-calling ever happened.

Please try and try to convince me that they are not expecting us to forget about the verbal, written and manipulated assaults that bombarded the American public. They don't think the emotional scars will just melt away quickly like a March snow.

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Please tell me you're not buying it.

Tell me, please, that we should be angry. Tell me you're mad as you-know-what and you're not gonna take it anymore.

What's that?

You're what?

You're going to forget about it?

Say what?

I don't believe you're going to fall for it. You're smarter than that. I'm smarter than that.

How are we supposed to just move on and forget about how seemingly intelligent human beings can be so mean and snarky and then bury the hatchet 10 minutes after the polls close?

I'll tell you how. Human nature.

Forgiveness and perseverance are such God-given fundamentals of the human condition that we find a way to forget about the way local 90th District candidates dissed each other in print and the manner in which U.S. Senate candidates in Maryland and West Virginia attacked each other in every manner possible.

Hey, these people were working on a means to get to an end. Gloves were off; careers and salaries were at stake. Reputations were on the line. Man, this is serious stuff.

This is so serious that I was scared to vote for both candidates for governor in Maryland, and I don't even live there.

OK, so I'll cut you some slack and make you a deal.

You listening?

Let's forgive all the winners (and losers) for all the negative campaigning and endeavor to persevere. Let's promise to make ourselves better constituents and keep an eye on what our elected officials are doing.

Promise - and this is important - to keep reading the paper and watching the talk shows to see what the politicians are doing and if they're keeping their promises.

And perhaps we can take a page from the disquieting White House pow-wow of Bush-Pelosi. Perhaps, we can just get along and work together to make things better?

No way! What a concept! It can't be possible? In America?

Why can't we all just get along?

Why can't we be nicer to the ones we love and more amenable to the ones we can't stand?

I don't know. I'd be the first to admit that some of the people I voted for didn't win. I'd be the second or third to tell you I was disappointed with some of the results.

But hey, it's one week later and time to move on. I'll support my people if they support me and my family and the things that are important to us.

Why can't we all just get along?

It hurts some - sort of like breaking in a new pair of pricey shoes - but you hope it will be worth it in the end.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Morning Herald.

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