September 22, 2009

The only thing shameful here is CNN pushing another "can't we all just get along" story and lumping Kanye West, Serena Williams and Rep. Joe Wilson into the same basket, as though all of these things are equal. See look everybody. There are some black people who behaved badly this week too. That and giving Lanny Davis a format to push his Civility Project. Isn't that special? It seems Lanny just wants everyone to get along and act nicely to each other. Heaven forbid we can't have any of that "in-civil" truth telling by the likes of Jimmy Carter.

Maybe he should heed some of his own advice. I think I just found where that "great conservative thinker" George Will got his talking point on This Week. Lanny Davis--Liberal McCarthyism: Bigotry and hate aren't just for right-wingers anymore. From back in 2006 when Lanny was telling all of the dirty f#$%ing hippies to leave poor Joe Lie-berman alone.

My brief and unhappy experience with the hate and vitriol of bloggers on the liberal side of the aisle comes from the last several months I spent campaigning for a longtime friend, Joe Lieberman.

This kind of scary hatred, my dad used to tell me, comes only from the right wing--in his day from people such as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, with his tirades against "communists and their fellow travelers." The word "McCarthyism" became a red flag for liberals, signifying the far right's fascistic tactics of labeling anyone a "communist" or "socialist" who favored an active federal government to help the middle class and the poor, and to level the playing field.

I came to believe that we liberals couldn't possibly be so intolerant and hateful, because our ideology was famous for ACLU-type commitments to free speech, dissent and, especially, tolerance for those who differed with us. And in recent years--with the deadly combination of sanctimony and vitriol displayed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Michael Savage--I held on to the view that the left was inherently more tolerant and less hateful than the right.

Yes... he actually wrote that. Some things never change, including Lanny Davis.

Transcript below the fold.

LEMON: Bite your lip and mind your manners. These famous faces could have used that advice over the last few weeks -- Congressman Joe Wilson, singer Kanye West, tennis champ Serena Williams and others. They're outbursts have made for quite a few uncomfortable moments.

So, what's encouraging these tantrums? President Obama says it's all for the spotlight and spectacle.


OBAMA: You know, and the other thing I've got to say is that I think it's important for the media, you know, not to do any media bashing here, to recognize that right now in this 24-hour news cycle, the easiest way to get on CNN or Fox or any of the other stations, MSNBC, is to just say something rude and outrageous.

If you're civil and polite and you're sensible and you don't exaggerate the bad things about your opponent, you know, you might maybe get on one of the Sunday morning shows, but you're not going to -- you're not going to be on the loop.


LEMON: So does the president have a point?

Well, let's get to our panel to break it down. We have some guests from the Civility Project, Mark DeMoss, he's in Atlanta, Lanny Davis is in D.C., and in Owings Mills, Maryland, we have P.M. Forni, the author of "Civility Solution."

Appreciate all of you joining us. You know, there's been much talk -- let's get to this and then get out of the way so we can talk that this was based in -- some of it, not all of it -- may have been based in race, and that's why people felt that they could yell at the president or have some of these signs.

Do you think it's based more in civility rather than race? I'll start with you, Mr. Forni.

P.M. FORNI, CO-FOUNDER, JOHNS HOPKINS CIVILITY PROJECT: I think that it's very difficult to determine. I think that there are fringes of people that probably for whom the race component is predominant, but I think that in America at large, the society at large, I think it was just a matter of bad manners and of incivility.

LEMON: Yes. That's exactly what your book is about.

OK. Mark DeMoss and Lanny Davis, you two -- who would have thought that you two would have ever gotten together to do this. And even some conservatives, some of them worked for former President Bill Clinton. How do you think you can help the Civility Project and getting people on the same page to get something done rather than yelling at each other?

Lenny, you start first.

LANNY DAVIS, THE CIVILITY PROJECT: I would prefer to start with Mark because he's my leader.

LEMON: Mark, why don't we do that? If he's your leader, we'll go with Mark and then we'll come to you. And go ahead, Mark.

MARK DEMOSS, THE DEMOSS GROUP: Well, Lanny and I became really became friends around a passion for this subject of civility. I have written Lanny a letter a year ago just to encourage him and commend him for what I thought was a very -- always a civil, respectful approach to people, whether or not he agreed with them. And I followed up about six months later and went to see him in Washington and we met for the first time and became wonderful friends.

LEMON: Do you think this can make a difference? Do you think people will listen to you? Because, as the president said, unless you make some sort of a spectacle or yelling or screaming, doesn't appear that you get anything done or anyone pays attention to you.

DEMOSS: Well, this segment that we're doing right now, notwithstanding, I actually agree -- tend to agree with what the president said. It is -- there aren't a lot of forums for the discussion we're having right now. And If anyone one of us tonight said something ugly or bombastic, we'll be on a lot of shows tomorrow. And I don't think any of us want to do that.

So --but I think we're making a little difference. You know, I'm just trying to encourage some discussion, some debate, and hope that we can win debates based on the strength of words and ideas and not based on our decibel level.

LEMON: And Mark, you know, I mean, Lanny, Mark, does makes a point because you don't end up in the paper, on television or on a blog or what have you saying, oh, there was a very civil discussion last night on CNN about the outrage in the company -- in the country. What you'll hear is, oh, this person said this and this person called this person that. Talk to me about that.

DAVIS: Well, I always start out saying I disagree with someone rather than starting out with the word you and accusing somebody of something. And that sometimes doesn't make great TV entertainment when you're not throwing food at someone.

But it also informs debate when two people with clashing ideas actually may contribute to people watching and thinking through an issue.

I also want to say that I'm very disappointed with a Georgian named Jimmy Carter who, since he left the presidency, has been a great example of doing good works, even though his virulent anti-Israel attitude has marred those good works.

But for him to weigh in and attribute motives to some of these folks who are genuinely angry about the economy and other issues, Jimmy Carter needs to apologize and Barack Obama has criticized a former president. I think Jimmy Carter really shamefully contributed to what we would call in-civil dialogue here.

LEMON: I have to say that that's probably going to make news right there, Lanny, that you did say that.

DAVIS: I'm a great fan of Jimmy Carter's; I have been for a long time. Aside from his anti-Israel behavior, I'm been a great fan of what he's done so much good around the world. And for him to inflame what should have been a civil debate by injecting race, and Barack Obama really smacking him down for it, which I found to be amazing, is something Jimmy Carter needs to think about.

LEMON: Lanny, we'll have to leave it -- that part of the conversation there, because the former president is not here to defend himself. But I think Mr. Forni wants to get in on this. And if you do, can you end by telling us what is the -- what's the first step here, Mr. Forni?

FORNI: Well, I wanted to say that in everyday life it pays to be considerate and kind. Can we make people listen to us by yelling and screaming in everyday life? Yes, but for five minutes. Then, in the long run, what wins -- what really wins the day is when we are perceived as having poise, having -- emanating an aura of power and repose, of being considerate people. And so, I'm not so pessimistic.

Also, the recipe, if there is one, for where to go from here, is in my opinion to be serious and going back to teaching good manners in the family and reinforcing that in the schools, making the teaching of good manners which is a training in sensitivity, which is giving our children the training of altruism in the schools as part of the curriculum.

LEMON: All right. That's good. We'll end it right there. I appreciate all of you joining us tonight for a very civil discussion about what's going on in the country. Mark DeMoss, Lanny Davis and also P.M Forni, we appreciate it.

DEMOSS: Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

FORNI: Good evening.

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