Scoot: "Ellen and Bush sitting at a game l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g"

October 09, 2019 - 10:33 am

Social media blew up over the sight of Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former Republican President George W. Bush in the Jerry Jones’ suite at the Packers/Cowboys game.  People expressed anger at Ellen for appearing to enjoy sitting next to a former Republican president.  At one point during the broadcast, the camera focused on Ellen and Bush laughing, and this drew criticism from those who felt like Ellen was bonding with the enemy.

In the aftermath of the criticism, Ellen addressed the controversy in the monologue on her talk show, “Ellen.”  She explained that people wanted to know “why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?”

Ellen seemed surprised by the negative reaction to her seemingly enjoying her time with a former Republican president and she defiantly defended the idea that we can be friends with people who have different opinions than ours.  “We’re all different. And I think that we’ve forgotten that it’s OK that we’re all different.” 

On my radio talk show, I often talk about the new reality that America has been reduced to a nation of fierce political tribalism and that we literally see each other as the enemy rather than accept the premise that we are all Americans first.  The true tragedy of the political divide is that judging and condemning fellow Americans because of their political opinions is inherently un-American.

Ellen should be applauded for demonstrating what it really means to be an American.  She admits that she was friendly with President Bush, and they did have a laugh together.  Why is that so wrong?  The criticism of Ellen for spending time with former President Bush in a suite at an NFL game speaks to the overzealous loyalty many feel to their political tribe.  We no longer have political parties - we now have political tribes and Americans show their tribal loyalty by attacking any member of the opposing tribe.

The reaction to Ellen sitting next to George W. Bush at a football game is just one moment - but it serves as a microcosm of modern-day politics.  Ellen made a great point when she told her audience, “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean be kind to the people who think the same way you do.  I mean be kind to everyone.”

Ellen shared one tweet that reflected the feelings of many of us:  “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.” 

While I understand that the confrontations between the political tribes is a compelling element in the daily drama of the cable news channels - at some point we should look at each other and realize that America was built on passionate political discourse - but American was not build on the political hate that now defines our great nation.

This week - Republican Congressman Steve Scalise was in the studio with me; and I told him that I disagree with him on many matters involving the unwavering support some Republicans show for President Trump - but I confessed to liking the congressman as a person.  In all of my face-to-face conversations with Congressman Scalise - we have always found a way to disagree with each other while showing deep respect and affinity for each other.

Hating someone consumes a lot more energy than loving someone.  We often criticize the politicians for creating the atmosphere of partisan hate - but I suggest that the politicians reflect we - the American people.

When you look into a mirror it is easy to criticize the reflection you see - but the mirror only has the power to reflect back that which is looking into it.  And so it is with the leaders of both political tribes.  They reflect the desire for divide that is living in America.

Even if you don’t actually do it - at least think about a leader of the opposing tribe and admit that it would be interesting - maybe even fun - to share a social moment with them that is beyond political ideology.  That’s what Ellen did when she shared a friendly moment with former President George W. Bush.

And for those on the left who think that it is only the right that displays intolerance - let’s remember that in the case of Ellen & Bush - it was the left that put their intolerance on display.

Ellen also said, “Thanks, President Bush and Laura Bush for a Sunday afternoon that was so fun.  By the way, you owe me $6 for the nachos!”

Ellen and Bush also shared something very personal that they had in common - they were both with their wives!

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