President Obama spoke about the climate of the 2016 presidential campaign -- referring to the "vicious atmosphere in our politics" at a luncheon on Capitol Hill.
"I know that I'm not the only one in this room who may be more than a little dismayed about what's happening on the campaign trail lately," he told a room of lawmakers at the Friends of Ireland lunch, hosted by House Speaker Paul Ryan. "We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities, at Americans who don't look like us or pray like us, or vote like we do."
"We've seen misguided attempts to shut down that speech. However offensive it may be -- we live in a country where free speech is one of the most important rights that we hold," Mr. Obama continued. "In response to those attempts, we've seen actual violence and we've heard silence from too many of our leaders."
The president did not single out entertainer and reality show TV star Donald Trump by name, even though the violence at some of Trump's campaign events has made national headlines.
"I suspect that all of us can recall some intemperate words that we regret. Certainly I can," he said. "And while some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it. For it is a cycle that is not an accurate reflection of America. And it has to stop."
"When we leave this lunch I think we have a choice," Mr. Obama said. "We can condone this race to the bottom or accept it as the way things are and sink further -- or we can roundly reject this kind of behavior, whether we see it in the other party or more importantly, when we see it in our own party, and set a better example for our children and the rest of the country to follow."
Let's hope we don't see any "vulgar and divisive" rhetoric coming from the President and the Democrats when the fight to have a hearing on the SCOTUS nominee begins.