Move campaigning aside for president

Vincennes Sun-Commercial

Disappointed.

That’s the only word to describe our feelings toward Messrs. Pence and Gregg and their absence from the welcoming party that greeted the president on his visit to Indiana.

When the President of the United States comes to your state, and you’re the governor, you’re there to greet him as your state’s highest-ranking representative no matter the political differences between the two of you.

It’s about respect for the office — both the office of the presidency and the office of governor.

And if you’re the de facto leader of the Democratic Party in the state of Indiana, and the de facto head of the Democratic Party in the country visits your state, you’re there to meet him, again no matter the philosophical differences that may exist between the two of you.

It’s about respect for the party.

It all boils down to respect.

Instead, Messrs. Pence and Gregg chose to disrespect the president, and in their snubbing of Mr. Obama gave our fabled Hoosier Hospitality a black eye.

As if we didn’t have enough trouble with our public image.

Both the governor and his rival offered reasons (excuses) as to why they couldn’t be in Elkhart on Wednesday to greet the president, but they don’t wash.

Basically, they chose campaigning over courtesy.

But what else can we expect these days when it comes to politics, where “respect” long ago fell off the truck.

What’s happened that’s gotten us into such a state as this?

We’ve always accepted the origin of the word “hoosier” that favored our inherent hospitality, that “Who’s here?” theory.

Instead, given the example of Messrs. Pence and Gregg, we may have to shift our fealty toward an alternative etymology, which holds that “hoosier” was basically just another word for “rube.”

We Hoosiers sure looked like rubes with the president coming to town and two of our most-important public figures choosing to stand him up.

Civility is considered to be evidence of a certain naïveté in today’s slash-and-burn political sphere, to bestow courtesy toward an opponent a demonstration of innocence or — worse — weakness.

The president and Gov. Pence hold to radically-opposing views when it comes to political philosophy. But there was a time in our country’s history when men of such differing views could sup together in conviviality, and our country was much the better for it.

Mr. Gregg served as one of the Indiana co-chairs for Mrs. Clinton’s failed 2008 campaign for the Democratic Party nomination, which, you recall, she lost.

He, too, differs with the president over some of Mr. Obama’s policies, but those differences don’t excuse discourtesy.

As Will Rogers, who never met a man he didn’t like, famously said, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”

The example we want our leaders to set, and that we want young people to emulate, is to be found in Will Rogers and not in the conduct of Gov. Pence or Mr. Gregg and their treatment of President Obama last week: differences be damned, we can be civil with each other, we can respect each other, we can get along with each other.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.