Man On Dog Bites Back
The other day I was a little bit dismissive of Dahlia Lithwick's plea to speak out about the nomination of Harold Koh, who was under assault from the right wing blogs. I blithely asserted that I'd heard he wasn't really in trouble and that the right always does this crazy stuff. The right is going mainstream with this ridiculous charge that Koh will put us all under Sharia law and sell out the country to the UN. (I know it's ridiculous, but it seems to be gaining some traction so it has to be addressed.)
Here's none other that Little Ricky Santorum writing an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Watching President Obama apologize last week for America's arrogance - before a French audience that owes its freedom to the sacrifices of Americans - helped convince me that he has a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions. His nomination of former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh to be the State Department's top lawyer constitutes further evidence of his disdain for American values.
This seemingly obscure position in Foggy Bottom's bureaucratic maze is one of the most important in any administration, shaping foreign policy in the courts and playing a critical role in international negotiations and treaties.
Let's set aside Koh's disputed comments about the possible application of Sharia law in American jurisprudence. The pick is alarming for more fundamental reasons having to do with national sovereignty and constitutional self-governance.
Still with the French hating (and still failing to acknowledge that we owe our freedom to the French in a much more fundamental way.) But that's just playing to the rubes. This is really about reestablishing the old liberals-are-commietraitors story line. He politely "sets aside" the alleged comments about Sharia law --- but naturally feels the need to throw the grenade into the commentary without any explanation.
He then goes on to basically claim that Koh wants to make the United States follow other counties' laws instead of its own. That's the kind of thing that really gets the jingoistic, xenophobic wingnut bloodlust up. Because the United States is perfect and anyone that even breathes that we are not perfect is a traitor.
This is standard issue conservative dogma and it's pretty likely that the country isn't all that receptive to it. But it's red meat to the base and they are really starting to get riled up. It remains to be seen if they have the juice right now to affect a Senate nomination on ideological grounds, but the one thing that will give them hope and make them feel powerful is a scalp. It's not a good idea to give them one (particularly when we know that this may very well be an elaborate blackmail scheme to force Obama to keep the torture secrets from the light of day.)
Update: Dave Weigel has the full rundown on the right wing plan of action to derail the Koh nomination. Apparently, it's ti-for-tat on the John Bolton nomination as much as anything. Apparently, they didn't get the memo about not looking in the rearview mirror. Someone ought to send it to them.