By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – The 20th anniversary of one of the ugliest events in modern American political history came and went last week with hardly any public notice, and therein lies a sad tale of just how far our political culture has degenerated.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

I’m talking about the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in October 1991, which became a riveting national spectacle when a former colleague of his at two different federal agencies came forward with claims that Thomas had made unwelcome sexual remarks to her when they worked together.

Her sensational testimony didn’t manage to deny him his seat on the court, mainly because he flatly denied any sexual harassment and there was no solid proof of it.

Polls at the time showed the vast majority of Americans believed Thomas, but Anita Hill’s story did raise public awareness of sexual harassment to new heights.

But no matter who you believed, the Hill-Thomas hearings, into which Hill was reluctantly dragged after the press was leaked an FBI report about her claims against Thomas, also showed how willing political adversaries were to use character assassination as a weapon.

And hasn’t that become the defining characteristic of our political life?

Criticism of the Clinton presidency didn’t end at his policies, or even the acknowledged problems in his personal life; he and his wife were unfairly demeaned as swindlers, congenital liars, even murderers.

To George W. Bush haters, he wasn’t just a bad president – he was stupid, evil and bloodthirsty.

And President Obama?

Hardly even an American; in fact, to his loonier critics, someone bent on destroying America.

All of the above is complete nonsense, vulgar nonsense at that.

But that’s how too many of us play the game these days.

Don’t believe me?

Later on, I will share with you some of the nasty hate mail I will receive in response to this commentary, because in our time, disgracefully, you can’t just disagree with someone, you have to revile them too.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Jon Keller

Comments (9)
  1. blackbear1 says:

    I do disagree with many of your above mentioned people, as I have the right to do. However, please do not accuse me of “Reviling” anyone!! You will have to do your best to filter out the revilers from those that disagree or don’t believe you, which I don’t much of the time.

  2. mikey says:

    “I was not meant for the job or spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport”….Vince Foster

  3. tsal says:

    Jon another great topic. I absolutely agree with your comment that “because in our time, disgracefully, you can’t just disagree with someone, you have to revile them too.” With the advent of blogs, it seems many (not all) find it acceptable to comment in a way they would never use in a face-to-face discussion. As everyone knows, I have mentioned that multiple times here. We are all guilty of it when on occasion our passion about a topic takes over. However, some simply find it acceptable to use a label such as liberal or dingbat or a multitude of others and mean it as an insult.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion but no one deserves to be criticized for his opinion. I was also appalled when you said you actually receive hate mail for your topics. To me your topics certainly have an undertone of your belief but I am never quite sure what your thoughts are as much as I am aware of what your questions are. I think that requires a lot of forethought about how to word a topic without totally coloring it and still invite debate.

  4. emom says:

    OH JON, SAY IT ISN”T SO.. I will agree with you about the not able to disagree, Many will call you the most vile things. WHY because they beleive you are uneducated, a lefty, a fanatic, or what ever reason… I have had the displeasure of this behavior, Sure it bothers me BUT , I dont let it last to long,.. I speak my mind, give my opinion , If someone just has an issue with is so be it,, Its their issue not mine. All they are is bullies, cowards, and well cant find any peace with them selfs.. OH WELL… On the anita hill issue, well seemed to me she was looking for her 15 minutes of fame.. maybe that was the reason it was not so notices.. WHO cared. As for the presidents,, Hey what they do to their families behind closed doors ,,, again WHO CARES, its their business… But how they run this country,,, I CARE IT’S MY LIFE AS WELL AS MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Oh if i misssed spealed so what its no if a huge crime has ben commited its just a mistake.. Besides, many ceo make mistakes and are never corrected, so as lonmg as the message gets acreoss why does it mater…
    Yeah did this on purpose. LOL

  5. Mark says:

    It’s a problem that has gotten worse with the anonimity of the internet. Have you seen how this has degenerted on Facebook a supposedly ‘social network”? Character assaination is at it’s peak on that site.

    1. Stanley11 says:

      I totally agree with you, Mark. I like to call it “Keyboard Courage”.

    2. tsal says:

      Agreed Mark and Stanley great name for it

  6. fred says:

    Don’t forget to mention another example of this political and personal demagoguery practiced by the late Edward M. Kennedy and others during the Robert Bork confirmation spectacle. For these people who go this route (republicans and democrats alike) the ends always justifies the means because they always know better than you or I.

  7. FireGuyFrank says:

    This was the original “reality” television — throw a bunch of self-indulgent sycophants (repetitive, I know) in a room and watch them skewer each other.

    Game on.

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