But while they did not differ that much on the question of security, the Congressional Insiders had very different views on the state of political discourse. Asked to characterize the quality of political discourse these days, fully half of the Democrats said that it was "terrible." Another 38 percent said that it was "poor." Republicans, by contrast, were much less discouraged. Only a sliver, seven percent, said it was "terrible." Almost a quarter said it was "good."
The partisan division is not surprising. Many Republicans have bristled at suggestions in the media that the harsh rhetoric that has been aimed at Pres. Obama and accompanied the public debate somehow motivated gunman Jared Loughner. A Democratic Insider who described the political discourse as poor said, "The tone of certitude on issues and the dehumanization of opponents are not only unproductive, but dangerous." A skeptical Republican Insider said bluntly, "What does this question have to do with the Arizona shooting?"