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Bill Clinton and George HW Bush Chair New ‘National Institute for Civil Discourse’

By Doug Powers  •  February 21, 2011 03:32 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

How did Richard Dreyfuss end up not being involved in this?

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate, university officials will announce Monday.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse – a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy about civility in public discourse – will open Monday in Tucson. It was created in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings in the city where six people were killed and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Clinton said in a statement that the new institute “can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country.”

It seems like the more they claim to want to “elevate the tone of dialog” the worse it gets, doesn’t it?

Tom Daschle is also involved in this and will on occasion deliver speeches on civility — the thinking being that you won’t find more civil people than those who are sleeping during a Tom Daschle speech.

Kevin Williamson at NRO sums up the farce of Bill Clinton’s involvement:

What’s so civil about the red-faced, rage-filled Bill Clinton? The guy tried to blame Oklahoma City on Rush Limbaugh. Using both the bully pulpit and his proxies, he constantly implied that his critics were either racists, sexual deviants, corrupt, or all three. His minions brought us such gems of civil discourse as: “Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, and you never know what you’ll find.” Clinton had the gall to subsequently tout his own “moral fiber” while denouncing his critics as “sleazy,” telling Peter Jennings: “You never had to live in a time when people you knew and cared about were being indicted, carted off to jail, bankrupted, ruined, because they were Democrats and because they would not lie. So, I think we showed a lot of moral fiber to stand up to that.”

Of course, they were lying. Lying — wagging one’s finger and flat-out lying – also is not traditionally considered part of civil discourse.

As Bill might say, “it depends on what your definition of ‘civil’ is…”

How exactly would a debate on civility go, anyway? A prediction:

Debater 1: “You go first…”

Debater 2: “I’d really appreciate it if you started…”

Debater 1: “That would be presumptuous of me, so you begin.”

Debater 2: “By all means, you begin, I insist.”

Debater 1: “You shouldn’t insist, that’s uncivil.”

Debater 2: “Sorry — will you please go first…”

Debater 1: “That’s a better tone, but I’d still like you to go first so I can improve upon your ideas…”

Debater 2: “Now you’re just being condescending.”

Debater 1: “Hey a$@*le, being polite isn’t condescending.”

Debater 2: “You’re not being polite, di*#weed, you’re trampling on my right to defer and using an uncivil tone to do so, just like Hitler!”

Debater 1: “Wanna take this outside, you piece of…”

Moderator: “…Thank you, civility debaters, but we’re out of time this evening.”

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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