Character Counts[Click to read]
Do you recall that the Vice President of the United States told Sen. Leahy to "go f**k yourself" last month? Maybe I wouldn't have if I wasn't subjected to some damage control in the press, again, today.
The vice presidents wife (The Second Lady?) has called her husbands use of the F word "out of character". Its her assertion that he doesn't normally talk like this, that its really Sen. Leahy's fault (he was asking for it I guess) and that it was a private exchange. Private? He was on the Senate floor. With senators.
But lets just give her that. We'll just go ahead and believe that Mr. Cheney felt like he was having a private exchange. So what? Is it alright to curse others in private but not publicly?
It is about character. Not the character of being the sort of person who uses the F word. (I am required by integrity to admit here that I am a frequent user of that word) It's more about being the sort of person who is willing to apologize for having said something truly disrespectful, unprofessional and reprehensible. I am pretty certain that Mr. Cheney does use the F word. It is very rare that someone, who is not suffering from advanced Tourette syndrome, would blurt out a phrase they never use -- accidentally. Mrs. Cheney thinks he was "pushed to extremes". I think that "extreme" exposed his character, not the other way round.
But what has the Vice President had to say for himself? Only that he has no regrets about the outburst. Funny that I can regret it, but he doesn't.
Does it really matter though? I mean who cares what those folks on the Senate floor say to each other when they are feeling "private"? I do. I care. Because these people represent me. And I would like think that even if I was a regular user of the F word (even if?), I could still manage not to blurt it out on the Senate floor, for crying out loud! Is it wrong for me to expect a sense of propriety and decorum in my government?
I am currently engaged in the arduous process of becoming an attorney. All those law shows on TV aside, I am pretty sure that if I walked into a court of law and dropped the F bomb on opposing counsel that I would be in some seriously hot judicial water. No court is going to allow that kind of utter disrespect to go un-sanctioned. And that's the way it should be. We have to hold the line of civility and decent behavior some where. It's not held in the press. It's not held in our schools. People parade around with that word emblazoned on their shirts in public and you can buy it on hundreds of music CD's with out any extra effort. I think that the Senate floor ought to be F word free.
Don't get me wrong, Mr. Cheney has not fallen in my esteem because he knows the word. Nor has he fallen for having accidentally said it. He fell in my esteem for failing to apologize for the gross disrespect for both Sen. Leahy and for himself. For his disrespect of the position that he holds in this country. And for his disrespect of me.
I seem to recall (don't quote me on this) Laker's center Shaq using the same language to a referee last season. What was done about that? I am glad that at least the NBA recognizes that there are certain things you just don't say in polite company.