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Tuesday, Nov 06 2012 11:00 PM

AL SANDRINI: Fat and foolish talk: Limbaugh-Christie tiff says it all about US

By The Bakersfield Californian

My dad gave me lots of good advice while he was alive, and one of the best was to never talk about politics or religion while sitting in a pub with a favorite adult beverage. Well, I'm not on a barstool, I don't have an adult beverage in front of me, but sitting at my computer about to talk about politics through a newspaper may be more dangerous.

I waited until after Election Day to share these thoughts on something Pop advised me to never discuss: politics. I really try to remain apolitical and don't want personal preferences or biases to enter into this discussion. I don't want to be accused of trying to advocate for one position or another and thus I wait until after Election Day to share my thoughts.

Like most of you I'm really tired of all the political rhetoric, half-truth and no-truth advertising, mud-slinging commercials about good people, good propositions, or public servants who try to be good (a diminishing number, I fear). So, with that being said, what could have possibly happened that would motivate me to break a standard I've honored all these years?

Buried deep in the Oct. 30 Los Angeles Times article, "Hurricane Sandy: Northeast struggles to its feet as sun comes out" were a couple of quotes that I fear exemplify what is wrong within our country and why we are faced with governmental gridlock.

The reporters did a great job outlining the impact of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey and New York. They had firsthand accounts of issues and problems continuing to hinder full recovery. They had quotes from Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

What really caught my attention were the following passages. "I cannot thank the president enough," Christie said. Obama responded by singling out Christie's "extraordinary leadership." "He put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back," Obama said.

Well, what's wrong with a Republican governor saying something nice about a Democratic president? Is it so damaging for a Democratic president to compliment a Republican governor? The Times pointed out how Christie had been "a top surrogate for Mitt Romney's campaign and was keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention this summer. He spent months filleting Obama's presidency."

I can handle the fact these two men have political and pedagogical differences, but when people of our country are in need, those differences must disappear and be replaced with cooperation and consistent concern for their fellow man.

But here's what really pulled my chain. The Times further reported that "The 'partnership' between Obama and Christie ... has prompted tea-leaf-reading in the chattering classes, and no small amount of grumbling on the right. Some commentators labeled the governor 'Judas Christie' and Rush Limbaugh, a leading conservative voice, called Christie 'fat and a fool.'"

There you have it. When the governor of a state under siege of storm is attacked by men who share his political principles, the reflection mirrored throughout our country displays why our republic is not functioning so well.

For me, I think the governor and the president exhibited what has to be done if our country is going to continue to be a beacon of hope. It's called working together. It's called compromise! While in this case, members of the far right attacked one of their "brethren" for working with the "other party," there is plenty of evidence that members of the far left have exemplified an unwillingness to work with members of the "other party."

I fear for our country because of these polarized ideologies. In a sense the identity of the candidate we elected Tuesday is irrelevant; if we continue to govern from the polar extremities, little else matters. What a frightening thought.

One thought still resonates with me as it relates to Rush Limbaugh. Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black: More than one character in this story is "fat and a fool."

Alvin G. Sandrini of Bakersfield, former superintendent of the Norris School District, is retired after serving most recently as executive director of the Sacramento-based Small School Districts' Association. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words.

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