The image of a group of an unapologetic group of Tea Partiers heckling a man suffering from Parkinson’s disease during a recent rally against U.S. health care reform will not soon be forgotten. According to New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, the episode, captured on videotape and widely circulated in advance of Congress’s passage of the historic bill, is emblematic of the kind of vile behaviour that has been allowed by the Republican party—both among its supporters and ranks. Opponents of the bill also took aim at black congressmen, including civil rights leader John Lewis, by spitting on them and shouting racial slurs. Herbert argues that, in shielding those who partake in this kind of racism and bigotry, the GOP has created a deliberate distraction. “The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party […] tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country,” he says. “If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.”
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