Issue: 1.11 9/1/2000
by: Joe Klock Sr.
Let's Mess with Mr. In-Between

Well before the Middle Ages (well, MY Middle Ages, anyway) , a songwriter named Johnny Mercer penned lyrics that included "you gotta ac-cen-tuate the positive, e-lim-inate the negative and latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-between."

Another tunesmith wrote a piece entitled "Gotta Be This Or That."

Both compositions sort of represented the mind set of many, if not most, Americans, who then tended -- and still tend -- to deal in absolutes with respect to the issues of the day, the year, or even their lifetimes.

Too many of us are either unequivocally, unreservedly, resolutely for or against the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, abortion, birth control, guns, booze, marijuana, specific religions, free love, prostitution, married clergy, female priests, modern music, classical music, rap, unionism, Jerry Springer, the Pope and anchovies, to mention but a few areas of vastly divided opinion.

There are those who, throughout their entire adulthood, vote only the straight tickets of a single political party, seeing only goodness in that one and nothing but depravity in the others. Thus it is that rigid partisans, with the help of hired spin doctors, are able to point with pride to everything about the worst charlatans of their own political stripe and view with alarm the loftiest virtues of everyone across the aisle. Thus it is , for example, that:
- Some militant pro-choicers defend the right to kill a full-term infant within seconds and inches of life outside the womb.
- Militant pro-lifers oppose the right of caring and responsible people to choose not to become parents.
- Some yahoos, including a former Moses, favor totally unrestricted possession and use of deadly weapons and deadlier ammunition.
- Others would deny responsible citizens the right to own a gun and be accountable for its use.
- Elected officials can deny any connection between political contributions and favor granted to the donors.
- People can hate and abuse other people merely on the basis of their skin color, religion or national origin, while maintaining a saintlike tolerance of their "own kind."
- Apologists for our Bimbophile-In-Chief can dismiss perjury as innocent after play of casual sex. The disease of black-or-white myopia (i.e., gotta be this or that), is the worst kind of bigotry, because it is intolerant of understanding, compromise, logic, and even fact.

What, in this era of finger-pointing, sound bites and sloganeering, has happened to the middle ground, whereon reasonable people can meet and partially disagree, but totally respect the viewpoints of others?

Why can't partisans at both rope-ends in the abortion tug-of-war agree that victims of rape and incest should have fast, reliable and legal procedures available to them?

And why can't they agree that a woman's right to terminate an unborn child must be predicated on more than avoiding inconvenience or discomfort to the mother?

Why can't law-abiding citizens agree to register their guns, prove that they're competent to own them and be responsible for their use?

Why can't we hold those in authority -- public and private -- accountable for the lies that do harm to others and are a betrayal of trust?

Why can't we just do away with big chunks of hard money, soft money, payola, junkets, influence peddling, PACs and clandestine committees with high-sounding names and low-blowing objectives? (Or just change the country's name to the UnitedSALES Of America?)

Why can't our political candidates engage in face-to-face discussion of the issues that concern us and the questions we'd like to have answered?

Why, instead, must we judge them on the basis of slick TV ads, mud-slinging, personal attacks, innuendos, half-truths, out-of-context quotes, dirty tricks, unfounded rumors, fear-mongering, repetitious talking points and the vicious harangues of surrogate hatchet wielders?

One of the reasons so many people were saddened by the defeats of John McCain and Bill Bradley was the fact that they at least appeared to be interested in "straight talk," and that this approach struck a responsive chord in large segments of disaffected Americans.

No, I didn't say they had the whitest wings since Gabriel, but they were a refreshing respite from the formula rhetoric of the candidates who survived, both of whom merit an Iron Crotch Award for straddling fences.

One of my late father's favorite quotes (source unknown) was:

"There's so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it behooves all of us not to criticize the rest of us." (However, I never heard him utter a kind word about the Democrats.)

One can only hope that the high crown on the middle of the road will one day be found, along with the sound thinking of Mister, Missus and Miz In-Between.

What's usually encountered on either extreme side of that center is a gutter.

Joe Klock, Sr. (The Goy Wonder) is a freelance writer and career curmudgeon. To read past columns (free), visit
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