Keller @ Large: Our Culture’s Getting Nasty And Bitter

BOSTON (CBS) – If you’ve struggled to make sense this week of the bitter partisan fighting over the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, and all the fine points of the filibuster process and the nuclear option, that’s understandable.

Suffice to say it’s all about the loss of collegiality in the Senate, of moderation, of respect for the institution and its careful, deliberative process, replaced by harsh partisanship, festering grudges, and divisive ideology.

What difference does it make that a judge will get a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court from a simple majority vote of the 100 senators, rather than the 60 votes they used to need?

It means there’s less pressure on the party in power to nominate judges that can attract support from those in the minority.

Watch out for more extreme figures to make it to the court as a result.

It’s not good news, in part because it’s just another step in a broader cultural descent into bitterness, anger and recrimination as a way of life.

I’m reminded of that erosion every time I witness inexcusable rudeness in a store or dangerous aggression in a rotary, which is to say, nearly every day.

don rickles obit Keller @ Large: Our Cultures Getting Nasty And Bitter

Don Rickles in 2007. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images for AFI)

And I was reminded of it again by the news that comedian Don Rickles passed away, after a long career of getting laughs by insulting everyone in sight.

But if you listen to some of the Rickles act, you’ll see that it was humor without anger, delivered without malice. He ended every show by saying conciliatory things like: “we kid because we love.”

We don’t kid like that anymore. In fact, we’re rapidly becoming a culture where all that’s left is the grievances.

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