Eine Kleine Mock Music
Would it be terribly politically incorrect of me to wish that Joe Klein would just succumb to his impending persistent vegetative state? I promise to let the Schindlers adopt him and they can pump his feeding tube full of homemade butterscotch puddin' 24/7 if he will just shut his burbling piehole.
In spite of the fact that three quarters of the country were repelled by the Republican grandstanding in the Schiavo circus, Klein insists, as always, that it is the Democrats who have it wrong. We need to give "careful consideration to what thoughtful conservatives are saying about the role of the judiciary in our public life."
Which thoughtful conservatives should we be listening to Joe? The ones who are directly threatening conservative and liberal judges who believe their job is to interpret the laws or the ones who merely understand why someone would be moved to threaten conservative and liberal judges who believe their job is to interpret the laws? Or maybe it's this thoughtful conservative who heads the Coalition For A Fair Judiciary. Here's what she thoughtfully had to say today, (via Sam Rosenfeld on TAPPED):
My job is stand in the breach between the left and the president’s judicial nominations . . . You know who they are. You’ve seen them. The pro-abortion fanatics and the radical feminists, the atheists who file lawsuits attacking the pledge of allegiance and the ten commandments, the environmentalist tree-hugging animal-rights extremists, the one-world globalists who worship at the altar of the United Nations and international law, the militant homosexuals and the anti-military hippie pieceniks, the racial agitators who believe we are all created equal but some are a little more equal than others, the union bosses and the socialists posing as journalists and college professors, the government bureaucrats and the tax-and-spend junkies, the Hollywood elitists, the air-headed actors and singers who think that we actually care what they think, the pornographers who fund the leftists and who won’t be happy until every Bible in every child’s hands is replaced with the latest copy of Hustler magazine, and of course the gun-grabbing trial lawyers and their willing accomplices in the United States Senate who won’t be happy until they disarm every last citizen down to the last bee bee and paintball gun.
Yes, I agree that I need to listen more to flaming fuckwads like that. Right after I pull the hot needles from my eyeballs.
The Schiavo case has provoked a passionate American conversation, which is taking place on a more profound level than the simple yes and no answers of the polls. Yes, the vast majority disdain the politicians who chose to exploit the case. And yes, a solid majority would not want their own lives prolonged in a similar situation. But the questions that cut closest to home are the family issues. What would you do if Terri Schiavo were your daughter? Why couldn't Michael Schiavo just give custody over to the parents? What do we do about custody in a society where the parent-child bond is more durable than many marriages? The President's solution, to "err on the side of life," seems the only humane answer—if there is a dispute between parents and spouse, and the disabled person has left no clear instruction.
"The parent-child bond is more durable that many marriages?" And here I thought it was supposed to be the Democrats who infantilized adults. Or maybe it's really just the infantilization of men. The old rhyme used to say that a "son is a son 'til he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter all of her life." Now a son is a daughter all of his life too. I guess that's a weird form of progress.
Klein's insistence that the polls don't acurately reflect the nation's feelings on the matter is reminiscent of official Washington's gobsmacked reaction to the public's take on the Lewinsky scandal. Here's how Klein himself explained it in "The Natural."
When it has all been digested, public opinion has shifted not a whit. The President's job approval ratings remained very high, in the 60 percent range --- he would leave office with the highest sustained job approval ratings of any President since John F. Kennedy. His personal approval ratings were lower, of course. It was difficult to imagine any civilian answering in the affirmative if asked, "Do you approve of the President's personal behavior?" Of course many secret sympathies were undoubtedly harbored, especially among those Clinton's age, who had navigated themselves --- shakily --- through the uncertain moral shoals of the late twentieth century.
The Republicans suffered grievously. They lost five seats in the congressional elections that fall, which was very rare for a midterm election during a President's sixth year in office. Newt Gingrich suffered and appropriately Jacobin fate, becoming as target of his own hotheads...His reign had lasted exactly four --- entirely disasterous --- years...A Harris poll showed that journalists were now held in the lowest public esteem of any professional group, lower even than lawyers.
This mystified Washington. William Bennett, the former Reagan education Secretary who had built a cottage industry out of books that compiles stories about "virtues" now hustled forth with a new book called "The Death of Outrage, and made a national tour lamenting the moral insensitivity of the American people. The editorial pages of both the New York Times and Washington Post had sounded, in the midst of the scandal every bit as intemperate as the editorial page of the Wall Street journal.
How then to explain the contrast between the intensity of outrage in Washington and the laissez-faire attitude toward the President's immorality among the citizens of the most religious of Western democracies? It seemed an inprecedented disparity, and quite fascinating. It was especially entertaining to watch the commentariat --- which had been predicting for months yhat the public would soon share its anti-Clinton obsession --- try to explain why that hadn't happened. Americans had judged the Lewinsky affair a delicious, disgraceful, exploitive and ultimately private act of consensual sex.
However you choose to characterize people's reactions, the only one that matters politically is that they believed it was a private act and that the government had overstepped its bounds. But "the uncertain moral shoals of the late twentieth century" (and early 21st century) aren't confined to whether middle aged men can keep it in their pants at the office. Lot's of uncertainty these days Joe, except for one thing --- nobody wants that moron George W. Bush defining what constitutes "erring on the side of life" any more than they wanted Ken Starr rifling through their panty drawers.
Speaking of the Democratic response he says:
...it was a curiously sterile pronouncement, bereft of the Congressman's usual raucous humanity. It exemplified the Democratic Party's recent overdependence on legal process, a culture of law that has supplanted legislative consideration of vexing social issues. This is democracy once removed.
Huh? The libertine left is now overly dependent on the rule of law? WTF? And who says that liberals are supplanting legislative consideration of vexing social issues? We are happy to pass laws on all these things. But, we just have a little expectation that these laws should be constitutional that's all. We're not in favor of inflicting particular religious doctine on those who don't believe and we don't think that the government should intrude on purely private matters. If that's a "culture of law" count me in.
There must be some kind of computer program you can buy in DC that scolds Democrats like a drunk and bitter stepmother no matter what the circumstances. If there isn't, I'm going to invent one so that Joe Klein can spend even more time kissing the flatulent asses of sanctimonious Republican gasbags who insist that James Dobson and his zombie nation represent "real" America
This month, Democrats may use procedural tricks to stop all Senate business and block a Republican effort to eliminate minority filibuster rights and jam through seven federal judges proposed by the President. The fight may be winnable, but it is a culture of law cul-de-sac. The Democrats will be shutting down the Senate over a matter of process rather than substance, a pinhead of principle most civilians will find difficult to understand. The Armageddon of confirmation battles—over the next Supreme Court Justice—will probably follow soon after, and it may cement a public impression of the Democrats as a party obsessed with the legal processes that preserve the status quo on issues such as abortion, gay rights and extreme secularism—and little else. The political damage may be considerable.
I'll take my chances. Klein was among those he now mocks for assuming for months that Clinton would be forced from office. He has the political instincts of a dead cat. This judicial fight could have turned out the way Klein presents it. But Schiavo changed all that. Klein's got it exactly backwards. The GOP let loose the hounds of hell and now they can't get them back under control. We are better positioned than we have been since 9/11 to win one.
It's not about Democrats being "obsessed with legal processes and little else." It's about a bunch of extremists pushing their agenda far beyond what the public is ready to accept. Nobody gives a shit what Barney Frank said about this matter. They haven't even heard it. It's what Bill Frist and Tom DeLay said that freaked them out.
Josh Marshall brought up an interesting point about this that hadn't occurred to me before:
Was there any clear point in the legal history of this case at which, purely on legal intepretation grounds, any significant question should have been judged in a different manner?
I raise this because one of this site's regular readers and correspondents just dropped me a note about some program he was watching on C-Span in which some staffer from the Hill was about to blow a fuse over unaccountable activist judges and how they all need to be impeached.
But if the answer to the question above is 'no', then isn't the real beef of all these Schiavo-hounds that these judges aren't activist enough in departing from the law to get results the hounds want?
Well that gets to Klein's newfound embrace of the democratic process for resolving all these pesky social issues instead of relying on that musty old "culture of law" (aka the constitution of the United States.) Yes, it's very easy for these "culture of life" zealots to complain, but it's a little bit more difficult for them to actually step up to the plate and pass these laws in the way that Klein believes we all should. That's because these ideas are unpopular, unconsitutional and completely out of the mainstream. (Here's an interesting article in the St Petersberg Times that shows the great democratic and deliberative process that brought about "Terri's law" --- which was rightly declared unconstitutional by 7-0 margin in the Florida Supreme court and rejected for review by the US Supreme Court. Maybe if these people wrote literate legislation they'd pass muster. But then, perhaps they really don't want to...)
It's not that these judges are "liberal activists" --- the main players in the Schiavo matter were conservative republicans, for God's sake. It's that the Republican legislatures both state and federal want to blame the judiciary for the fact that they cannot deliver on these repugnant, unamerican, demands from their extremist religious right constituency. They want something that both real "thoughtful" Republican judges and Democrats all agree is unconstitutional. They want to destroy an independent judiciary so they can pass unconstituional laws on a purely partisan basis with no review. Sorry, I just don't see what's so "thoughtful" about that.
Armando has a full detailed Klein take down in this post over on Kos. Check it out.