Want civil discourse? Look no further than the House of Representatives.
The House this year has been a relative bastion of politeness, according to a new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. But the center said the 112th Congress looks ripe for incivility to spike with the upcoming 2012 election and the heated campaign rhetoric that comes with it.
Thus far — historically, at least — the House has been surprisingly civil.
Despite some blips — Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama referred to “socialist members of this body” in April, and North Carolina Rep. Mel Watt said in June that Republicans “just make stuff up,” members’ language has been mild compared with attacks in past decades, the study shows.
“Is it parliamentary inquiry to ask that the bill be printed in words of one syllable so that the Republicans can understand it?” one member asked in 1938.
In 1941, a representative called fellow members “half-baked nitwits.”
Some things never change — members have always loved to charge their colleagues with lying or say that certain rhetoric is demagogic, the study said. Calling another member clueless, arrogant or stupid, however, hasn’t been too popular since the start of World War II.
The two standout sessions of incivility were the 79th Congress in 1946, and the 104th in 1995, when Newt Gingrich served as speaker of the House.
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