During the Bush years, we were able to talk. He grudgingly acknowledged some issues with Bush, and graciously acknowledged that I had been closer to the truth on Colin Powell's fractured relationship with the Bush/Cheney people.
But then the 2008 election and President Obama, and the relationship dried up. At first, I just thought it was a job and location change for him. But after some prodding, he emailed me the other day to tell me that he hadn't maintained the email discussions because, well, read it:
have not continued our dialog because I know I would feel discouraged if, after what has been happening to our country for the past year+, you are still endorsing Obama's policies and our steady march toward socialism, corruption and the rending of our Constitution. If I am wrong about that, please let me know.
I loved the baited and leading questions, and the way that he took cheap shots at anyone who supported Obama.
(Side note, can anyone explain where the "corruption" meme comes from? I understand the charge of socialism, even though I think it is completely wrong. But where do they get the idea that Obama is corrupt? Or that he is "rending the Constitution?" I guess that last part may come from the Republican suggestion to have an insurance mandate, but where is the corruption? Not saying that there isn't some in the administration. Every administration has some bad apples, and that will come out. But this guy was a big Bush supporter and you would have to agree that there was a tremendous amount of corruption in that admin, most notably in the regulatory agency overseeing mines and drilling.)
Anyway, his response was obviously disheartening. I had tried to maintain a civil discourse only to be told that if I supported Obama I was against the constitution. Someone else in his family had said that of course the President deserved respect, but not Socialists, so Obama was beneath respect. And the upshot was that a relationship that I thought had some measure of mutual respect was only a one-way street. I wasn't family (distant or not), but merely a liberal--and now that Obama was president, I deserved the same response: derision and disrespect.
I disliked former President Bush as much as anyone around me. I thought (and think) that he was in over his head and hopelessly incompetent for this high of a job. I think he allowed truly sociopathic people to get us into two wars and to undermine much of our social safety net and regulatory system. But I tried, really, really hard, to engage with Bush supporters in person and through email with a modicum of respect. I will concede that I sometimes lost my temper, and often used my blog to vent, but I tried. I don't even see those on the far right as trying. And that makes me sad.