Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Turning?

The Moose wonders whether the values issue may be turning on the Republicans.

Yesterday, America commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. That horrific terrorist attack had a significant political impact. Prior to that moment, Republicans were on the ascendancy having just captured Congress and there were suggestions that President Clinton was irrelevant.

In the aftermath of the bombing, Clinton delivered a masterful speech at the memorial. He artfully connected the attack with the over-the-top anti-government rhetoric emanating from the right. Also, Clinton then proposed an anti-terror bill and many of its key provisions were stripped by a coalition of the Republican right and the Democratic left. In the coming months and years, the country soured on the right and Democrats were successful in '96 and '98.

The Moose is not suggesting that Republicans were in any way responsible for Oklahoma City. However, some of the right's anti-government animus was indistinguishable from that of the militia movement.

Ten years later, this time the right's rage is directed against the judiciary. Threats, veiled and rather direct, are coming from Republican legislators. One, Senator Cornyn, even suggested that judiciary itself might have created the violent climate that led to recent attacks on judges.

America's revulsion with the Republican intervention and demagoguery in the Schiavo episode underscores that the GOP may be going off the rails on values issue as they did with their anti-government crusade in the '90s.

While Republicans were once on the offensive on the activist judiciary, they are now playing defense against a public backlash on Schiavo. And why are Republicans so hot and bothered about confirming judges when they rant and rail against even conservative ones when they do not rule to their liking? Talk about mixed messages!

There is a tendency in politics to view the future through the rear view mirror. For instance, there is a strong belief that values will be a weakness for the Democrats in 2008 as it was in 2004. Although the Moose is a strong advocate for Democrats strengthening their "values portfolio", this area may turn out to be a bigger liability for the Republicans in the future if they are perceived by moderates in their own party and independents as beholding to extreme elements.

Increasingly, the Republican congressional caucus led by Reverend Frist, Father Santorum and Pastor DeLay sounds like the 1992 Houston Culture War Convention. And none of those leaders have the charm, intellect nor rhetorical skills of Pitchfork Pat Buchanan.

The Moose is not irrationally exuberant about the donkey's chances for '06 or '08. He is suggesting, however, that the seemingly invincible Republican fortress appears a bit more vulnerable. Even Rev. Pat Robertson is dumping on his protege Righteous Ralph Reed on the front page of Monday's New York Times because of his dealings with Rabbi Abramoff,

"Some of Mr. Reed's past patrons - including the Rev. Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who set Mr. Reed on the national stage by hiring him to run the Christian Coalition - say his work with Mr. Abramoff's Indian casino clients raises questions about how he has balanced his personal ambitions with his Christian principles.

"You know that song about the Rhinestone Cowboy, 'There's been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon,' " Mr. Robertson said. "The Bible says you can't serve God and Mammon."

Now, there's the pot calling the kettle black!
-- Posted at 8:33 AM | Link to this post | Email this post