I won’t make the (blatantly false) claim that I’ve never talked ugly about people, but as a rule I don’t like it. That goes for talk about myself, talk about my friends, and even talk about folks who compete against me. The world of a graduate student is one of competition, and I am not nor think I ever will be the departmental superstar who wins all the grants, gets invited to all the conferences, or gets the cush assignments for teaching (or not teaching). I also work alongside some very vocal liberals, atheists, anti-traditionalists, and folks of other ideologies that I do not share, and when we work on group endeavors (as we sometimes do), one or the other ideology is going to win out in practice. The thought of losing out in such struggles bothers me, but in the struggle I know that poisoning the well, making the struggle not about the policy or question at hand but about those who disagree with me, simply will not do.
This seems to be another one of those things, like going to work every day, which does not apply in Washington. The winner of any given Senatorial election in Georgia is more than likely going to be the one who went ugly earliest, and desparation seems to drive even good fellows like Obama and McCain to misrepresentation and personal slight. It might be that personal ascendancy, in that arena, is ultimately more important than keeping the discussion focused on the questions and policies at hand, and I acknowledge that possibility. I just don’t reckon I have the stomach for it.