I *heart* Orrin Hatch

Throughout my years following politics, there are few Republicans I’ve loathed more than Orrin Hatch, the arch-conservative from Utah.

Issue to issue, I agree with Hatch on almost nothing. Abortion. Guns. Iraq. Iran. The Supreme Court. He is a Republican Mormon from Utah (well, originally Pennsylvania), I am a Democratic Jew from New York. Like David and Max Basner, we have nothing in common.

Tonight, however, I am an enormous Orrin Hatch fan. While working out at the gym, I watched Hatch’s incredibly moving speech about Ted Kennedy, his political foil/dear friend. From John McCain to John Kerry to Deval Patrick, all the odes I heard were wonderful. Yet something about Hatch’s words struck me. He described a relationship with a man whose record he literally ran against. When Hatch was first elected, it was largely on the promise that he would take on Ted Kennedy. Yet with time, and exposure, he came to love the Massachusetts senator like a brother. I beg of you—watch the speech. It’s outstanding.

For me, it also resonated personally. Too often on this blog, and in my personal life, I forget that people are people are people. Someone can reject health care reform and not be the devil. Someone can be against, say, Affirmative Action and not hate blacks. Like too many of us, I get caught up in the fever, and it can wind up extremely ugly.

In fact, I’d say it’s a problem this country faces more than ever before. From Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the right to Mike Augustyniak and Randi Rhodes on the left, all this screaming, screaming, screaming has taken a terrible toll. We (and be ‘We,’ I include myself) never listen anymore. It’s all about yelling to make the loudest point, without considering the origin and experiences of the opposition. Maybe someone is pro-life because she had an abortion and always regretted it. Maybe someone is pro-choice because she had an abortion and always regretted it. Maybe those supporting the Iraq war lost loved ones on the battlefields. Maybe those against the Iraq war lost loved ones on the battlefields. There’s so little talking in 2009. All yelling.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to tone it down a bit.

Maybe I won’t be alone.