The politics of dirty bathtubs

Here are two questions for you to ponder:

1.  How disgusted would you be if you were asked to take a bath in a tub that had a visible ring left by someone other than you?

2.  How disgusted would you be if you were asked to take a bath in a tub that had a visible ring that you had left from a earlier bath?

My bet is that, as to question number 1, you’d be very disgusted; while as to question number 2, your response would be “eh — what’s a little dirt?”

My house, populated by my own two kids, half the neighborhood, and a dog, not to mention me and my husband, is never as clean as I would wish, but it’s my dirt.  It’s familiar, and I assure myself that there’s nothing “bad” lurking in it.  My neighbors’ houses, all of them boasting more or less the same level of kid and dog generated crime, are more suspect.  It’s their dirt and, really, that’s just not so nice.

(Yes, I’m going somewhere with this.)

I was reminded of our willingness to accept our own dirt when I read Jonathan Tobin’s comment about Paul Krugman in a larger column about the Leftist’s accusatory response to the Tucson shooting (emphasis mine):

To seize upon just one of the most egregious examples, the Times’s Paul Krugman claimed today that the Arizona shooting was the result of a “Climate of Hate” created by conservatives. Yes, this is the same columnist who wrote in 2009 that progressives should “hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy” because of his opposition (albeit temporary) to ObamaCare. But just as those who accuse conservatives of spewing hate that leads to violence ignore the daily provocations of TV talkers like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz, just as they ignored the unprecedented hate directed at President Bush, the Times Nobel Laureate thinks his own direct call for violence against Lieberman also doesn’t count.

Dirty bathtub syndrome, right?

But there are different degrees of dirt.  While one might be able to tolerate the faint rime of dust and grease that ones own body leaves behind in the bathtub, all sane people will respond different to a tub crusted by black goo occasioned by a visit to a swamp or pig farm.  The same is true for Krugman’s approach to politics, which often goes beyond the faint dirt of any political battle and veers into Marquis de Sade territory.

It’s one thing to engage in debate about ideas, or even to castigate someone holding those ideas.  That’s what the right does.  We attack ideologies, and we may work to expose people as fools or hypocrites (as I am doing here).  That’s the faint ring on the tub.  What we don’t do is speak longingly of our political opponents’ violent deaths, or the torture and suffering we hope to see inflicted against them (as I am not doing here).  For conservatives, politics is politics, although we recognize that different political systems have a direct impact on individuals.  For liberals, the battle of politics itself, not just the ideology, is definitely personal, and the personal seems lodged in a sadist’s fondest dreams.

And that’s the filthy black ring on the bathtub.  Any sane person should recognize that this type of dirt isn’t “just a little dirt” that’s tolerable because we tolerate our own mess.  This is ugly stuff that should be washed away.