Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Long live the king
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Very shrewdly, President Bush beat a tactical retreat on the role of
religion in politics during his recent White House press conference.
Speaking soon after "Justice Sunday," a closed-circuit telecast in
which certain of the Republican Party’s more fervid theologians
decreed that Democrats had shown their enmity to "people of faith"
by rejecting a handful of his judicial nominees, Bush was asked if
that struck him as an appropriate characterization. After a bit of
tap-dancing—the president said he didn’t agree with calling Democrats
anti-God, but wouldn’t call it inappropriate, either—Bush eventually
emitted a bit of bedrock Americanism. "I think faith is a personal issue,"
he said. "And I take great strength from my faith. But I don’t condemn
somebody in the political process because they may not agree with
me on religion. The great thing about America is that you should be
allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship,
ou’re equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you
choose to worship, you’re equally American if you’re a Christian,
a Jew, a Muslim. And that’s the wonderful thing about our country
and that’s the way it should be."

Do not be deceived. In effect, Bush is playing "good cop" to James
Dobson and Charles Colson and the rest of his right-wing fundamentalist
allies’ "bad cop." What’s at stake here is the so-called nuclear option
currently being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.,
for killing the filibuster, cutting off debate in the U.S. Senate by a
simple majority vote, abandoning 200 years of tradition for the purpose
of converting the federal judiciary into an arm of the Republican Party
and going a long way toward turning the president into a king.

In a tone of sweet reasonableness, Bush allowed as how "for the sake of
fairness," the good folks he’d nominated deserved nothing more or less
than an "up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate."

He neglected to mention that since the Supreme Court gave him the
presidency in a partisan 5-4 vote in 2000, the Senate has confirmed
than 95 percent (205 of 215) of the judges he has nominated, and that
there’s no precedent in American history and nothing in the U.S.
Constitution that says the rest deserve an up-or-down vote. Republicans
prevented 60 of President Bill Clinton’s judicial nominations from
getting a vote between 1995 and 2000 with no talk from Democrats of a
"culture war" or a constitutional crisis.

Here’s what Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution says about the
president’s power to make appointments: "He shall have Power, by and
with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided
two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and
by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme
Court" etc.

Notice that there’s not a syllable implying a simple majority vote.
That’s because the entire document was carefully crafted to prevent
what James Madison called "factions" from seizing control of the country by
winning one election. "A religious sect," he warned in Federalist No.
10, "may degenerate into a political faction." He might have been
talking about "Focus on the Family," the Family Research Council and
rest of these hot-eyed zealots who mistake their own opinions for the
voice of God.

The reason we have three separate branches of government and two houses
of Congress is to prevent narrow majorities from trampling everybody
else’s rights. The judiciary isn’t supposed to be subordinate to the
president and his party but independent of them. "This point is of
special importance," writes constitutional scholar Cass Sunstein, "in
light of the fact that many of the court’s decisions resolve conflicts
between Congress and the president. A presidential monopoly on the
appointment of Supreme Court justices thus threatens to unsettle the
constitutional plan of checks and balances."

Moreover, the U.S. electorate remains very closely divided. While Bush
eked out a close win in the 2004 election, 45 Democratic senators
chosen over revolving six-year terms represent more Americans than their
Republican colleagues.

Seizing a narrow advantage now could eventually have explosive
repercussions. Nobody understands that more clearly than Al Gore, who,
yielding to a badly reasoned Supreme Court decision in 2000, gave up
his presidential hopes in deference to the rule of law. "I can tell you
without any doubt whatsoever," Gore emphasized in a speech last week,
"that if the justices who formed the majority in Bush v. Gore had not
only all been nominated to the court by a Republican president, but had
also been confirmed by only Republican senators in party-line votes,
America would not have accepted that court’s decision." The so-called
nuclear option has nothing to do with conservatism; it’s radical
utopianism in a religious disguise.

•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


Post a Comment

<< Home