Judd Gregg: In praise of Ellen DeGeneres

Judd Gregg: In praise of Ellen DeGeneres
© Getty Images

Thank you, Ellen DeGeneres.

I have never watched her TV talk show or any of her movies. I think I saw her in a commercial a couple of times.

I do not know much about her, except that she is a very successful and popular person.

ADVERTISEMENT

Recently, she sat beside President George W. Bush at an NFL game.

Supposedly they engaged in casual banter — about the game, one presumes.

For doing this — for sitting beside the former President of the United States — she was attacked and vilified by some members of the Hollywood glitterati.

The attacks seemed especially ad hominem. She was charged by some of her movie town peers for talking to a “war criminal.”

This is a harsh charge even by the low standards of Hollywood’s elite.

Her response, however, was disarming and appropriate.

She simply said let’s "be kind to one another.”

How long has it been since we heard a leading light of the liberal establishment say something so needed, rational and upbeat?

The use of the term “war criminal” is an inexcusably defaming phrase for any American to subscribe to in referring to a former president. This is especially true in the case of George W. Bush.

President Bush, also known as 43, came into office with the aim of bringing the country together under the banner of compassionate conservatism.

In his first nine months, he made considerable progress. He moved to reform education to leave no child behind. He reinvigorated the economy with tax relief for most Americans.  He pushed to deal with illegal immigrants in a humane and positive way.

Then, America was attacked.

The terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 were the worse carnage seen on our soil since Pearl Harbor.

We were at war. President Bush became a wartime president for the rest of his term.

The issue was survival — keeping our nation and our people safe.

His spontaneous words, standing atop the burning rubble of to the World Trade Center, galvanized us:

“I hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

His decision to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium was not only an act of personal bravery but a clear statement to the nation that we were going to handle this attack with the grace, courage and purpose that is at the center of our character.

Were mistakes made? Yes, they always are when war is involved. Some were costly and tragic.

But since 9/11, America has not been attacked again — in large part because of the leadership and clarity that Bush displayed.

That is the true test of his policies. They worked, because they protected our country.

It is ironic that people who profit from movies and video games that promote excessive violence, like Avatar, deem themselves qualified to judge a former President of the United States with such viciousness and vindictiveness.

It is not only the liberal establishment that has gone off the deep end in its rhetoric of anger and debasement, but also President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE.

The president revels in using the lowest form of demeaning discourse, in language and imagery, when it comes to attacking others.

He has now made it almost a signature of his style to call people names and use words best left, if used at all, in a men’s locker room.

He believes that by using of the tone of a Howard Stern show he shows his willingness to transgress the normal boundaries that govern presidential behavior.

ADVERTISEMENT

He seems to believe that he is fulfilling his campaign promise to be different. He is asserting that he is a person who is guided only by his own rules.

Of course when one uses simplistic, tasteless language it becomes difficult to elevate the nation — or for that matter to make parents feel they can allow their children to listen to their president.

The language of social media has also become peppered with pejoratives and baseness.

It is a race to the bottom to see who, whether on the marginal right or the marginal left, can shout the loudest and most outrageously.

The collapse in what used to be called decorum is bad for the nation.

Our country requires respect for different views in order to facilitate compromise and good governance.

Our system of government requires accommodation. This cannot occur if there is no civility.

I suspect that, as a conservative, my political views are distinctly different from those of Ellen DeGeneres. But I immensely respect her willingness to set the correct tone in her response to those who attacked her.

It is at least the second time she has stood her ground well.

The first was when she stated her sexual preference at a time when such a proclamation carried considerable potential risk to her career.

Now, one hopes her call for tolerance of other views will also be accepted.

Maybe it will even help generate a general groundswell of decency in our political dialogue.

She does after all have a very large following.

Thank you, Ellen DeGeneres.

You have reminded many Americans of how important the strength of civility is to our nation’s success.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.