Earlier this week Mike Huckabee’s “Huckabee Report” addressed the behavior of guests at President Obama’s recent reception for Gay Pride Month. The report reads, in part, “Two visitors showed their gratitude by posing for photos giving obscene hand gestures in front of the official portrait of President Reagan. The photos appeared online in Philadelphia magazine. One of the men, Matty Hart, linked his Facebook page to them, adding obscene comments about Reagan.”
This saddens me on several levels. One, it should be common sense that a certain level or decorum is expected in the White House. Regardless of what anyone may think about the sitting president or any of his predecessors, there is no excuse for such immature and disrespectful behavior. The White House itself is a symbol, representing the office of the president, as well as a wealth of history and the peaceful transitions of power that have marked our nation for more than two hundred years.
While we have a tremendous privilege in America to speak freely about our opinions, and publicly express disagreement with, and even disapproval of, our elected leaders, there is no reason for such discourse to sink to the level of adolescent insults and name-calling. The tenor of political campaigns today does not help, of course, but the amount of mudslinging contained in campaign commercials and other attack ads does not justify the kind of behavior referenced in the Huckabee Report. A White House spokesperson apologized for the behavior, and said that that kind of behavior does not belong anywhere, let alone the White House. Agreed; but the reality is, there will need to be a seismic shift in the level of public decency expected in our country–and modeled by our elected leaders and other public figures–before this kind of thing is likely to become rare.
By the way, Mr. Hart is the national director for public engagement for a group called “Solutions for Progress.” According to their web site, Solutions for Progress is a “public policy and technology company.” Their homepage includes this headline: “An organization like no other. Changing reality on the ground by using policy research and technology to fight poverty; assisting people to obtain supports in an easy and dignified manner and governments to deliver
services more effectively.”
Now, I don’t know anything about the organization than that; until I Googled it after reading the Huckabee Report I had never heard of it. But I find it interesting to say the least that the headline on their web site touts their efforts to assist people in a “dignified manner.” It seems quite clear that there was nothing dignified about Mr. Hart’s behavior–and apparently he does not care. According to Huckabee Report, Hart “was unrepentant and says he doesn’t care if he’s not invited back to the White House.”
Referring to the name of Mr. hart’s organization–Solutions for Progress–Mike Huckabee commented, “Sounds like he doesn’t know much about either of those things. I really hope tasteless, vulgar people like that don’t even attempt to pretend to be for diversity or civility or tolerance.” I have to agree. And while it may make little difference in the overwhelming flood of indecency and lack of respect so prominent in America today, I would call on Solutions for Progress to demonstrate to their constituents and the entire population of the United States that while Mr. Hart may not care, they do, and such behavior will not be tolerated. There is really only one appropriate response for their organization to make: Mr. Hart should be dismissed immediately.