FILE - In this Jan. 25, 1984 file photo, President Ronald Reagan is flanked by Congressional leaders during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. From left are, House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill; Chief of Staff James Baker, partly obscured; Attorney General Nominee Edwin Meese; President Reagan; Majority Leader Howard Baker; and Majority Whip Ted Stevens of Alaska. Credit: Barry Thumma / AP

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I enjoy serious discussion and once found it in political debate, serious consideration of issues about which there was substantive disagreement. I remember, as a kid, listening to an exchange between Sen. Ed Muskie and my grandfather, who was the mid-coast representative in the Maine Legislature.

Muskie had come out to the island (Vinalhaven) for some occasion, Fourth of July maybe. During an interlude, Gramp, a Republican, and Muskie, a Democrat, found themselves on opposite sides of an issue. The consideration given to listening, one to the other, was real and I was impressed to think that this great man was only one of many who, representing millions of constituent Americans, made up a deliberative Congress.

Later, I listened to a spirited exchange between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. As Chris Matthews once noted, they didn’t argue, they talked, and it nourished my naive assumption that Americans were being and would always be well-served because varied interests were being given consideration by deliberative people.  

I enjoy hearing all about an issue; why wouldn’t I? I always come away with a greater understanding. It’s much more profitable than intransigence. So, when some Republicans, given the opportunity to comment, to perhaps voice an opposing view, after President Joe Biden’s recent news conference, responded by mindlessly characterizing a photograph of him exiting the stage as the portrait of a loser, I longed for the days when I could expect to hear something worth listening to from either party.

Phil Crossman