With respect to your cover story, “Reaching for Civility” (PAW June 2), however laudable Jim Leach ’64’s effort is to restore civility to political debate, what is infinitely more important is the content of the debate, not the manner in which manners are missing.
The most insidious part of the debate of the last few years is not the vitriol, but the dishonest abandonment of debating on the basis of the facts. It used to be that given the same set of facts, Republicans and Democrats would vociferously disagree because of different political ideologies. It was hard enough to pass legislation even under those circumstances.
If one has a legitimate point of view on a set of facts, then, by all means, support your ideology based on those facts. But to distort even the facts (e.g., claiming that the health-care plan has “death panels” that will decide whether to pull the plug on your grandma), puts the whole debate in an Orwellian never-never land without a connection to anything resembling reality. If you have a legitimate point of view, you surely have nothing to fear from the facts.
If Mr. Leach wants to crusade for something practical, he should exhort everyone — including the media — to not even start the debate until the facts are agreed upon. It matters not one whit if someone is quiet and civil but uttering total lies.