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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Writing On the Hand


When someone talks about the "writing on the wall," they are referring to a bad omen. A sign that the future does not look all that good. Its origins come from a story in the bible where supernatural writing appeared on the wall of a temple, signaling the downfall of an empire.

It may be that some recent political writings signal a potential problem for America as well.

On February 6, 2010, Sarah Palin was addressing a convention of the Tea Party. Word got around that she was interested in a nomination, assuring her place in the 2012 general election. But what really got everyone's attention was the writing on her hand.

Video of her speech revealed some ink scribbles on her hand. Independent gurus later revealed what was written:

"Energy"

"Budget (Cut?)"

"Tax"

"Lift American Spirits"

Essentially, a cheat sheet for her speech. For someone who had come across as less-than-intelligent at various times in the past, this incident didn't do much for Palin's credibility. What added fuel to the flames was a joke that she had made during the speech where she poked fun at President Obama's reliance on a teleprompter. The irony of the situation made it instant news.

But it didn't stop there.

Soon afterwards, White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, played his own card. At a White House briefing soon after Palin's address, he mockingly referred to notes on his hand where he had written down a partial grocery list, as well as two key words from Obama's presidential campaign:

"Hope"

"Change"

One or two of the press erupted in sincere laughter. The rest of the room responded as well, but more in disbelief of what had been done. It was a cheap shot - and it was aimed at someone that wasn't supposed to be a serious contender for the White House.

And so it went, one insult after another... after another.

I am all for debate in politics, and humor usually makes things more interesting. But do we really have to be so callous in our debates? For a country that requires most college graduates to take courses in civics, it is unfortunate that its leaders seem to have misplaced the virtue of civility.

If we do not change the tone of our public discourse, the "writing on the hand" may very well end up being the "writing on the wall" - foretelling our decline as a nation. If we want to remain as a leading force for good in the world, we must make use of those values which make us great within the walls of our own country.

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