Friday, September 01, 2006

Here come the jackhammers: Bush to resubmit extreme right-wing nominees

How do you chip away at the Democratic lead in election polling? Whip up the radical GOP base into a voting frenzy by re-nominating five extremist judges for Senate confirmation:

Included on the list is District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, a former aide to Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who was blocked by Democrats when he was first nominated to serve on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. Boyle, one of President Bush’s most controversial nominees, has issued numerous opinions hostile to affirmative action, women’s rights, fair employment, and voting rights. The most recent controversy surrounding Boyle is a report that reveals that he failed to recuse himself from nine cases in which he had a conflict of interest....
Bush will also resubmit the nomination of William J. Haynes II for the 4th Circuit. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) wrote about Haynes in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, “Nominations do not get much worse than this…Haynes does not come anywhere close to the commitment to fundamental rights and the principle of separation of powers that we all expect from the federal courts. He would be a poster boy on the 4th Circuit for denying the rule of law…”
The third on this list of five nominees is Norman Randy Smith of Idaho, who has a long history of representing Idaho’s large corporate interests, according to Alliance for Justice. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the only woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has vowed to block from a seat on the 9th Circuit that is traditionally held by a Californian according to the Legal Times. William Myers III, also from Idaho and to be nominated to the 9th Circuit, was previously blocked by a Democratic filibuster and then re-nominated. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that Myers was blocked for being “the most anti-environmental nominee sent to the Senate...”
Bringing up the rear is the nomination of Michael B. Wallace to the 5th Circuit. Wallace, a former aide to Senator Trent Lott (D-MS), has the distinction of being the first appellate court nominee in 25 years to be given a rating of “unqualified” to sit on the federal bench by the American Bar Association.
Why bring these lackluster nominations to the Senate now when America faces more pressing issues? I imagine the invisible hand of Dr. James Dobson, key to turning out the extreme fundamentalist vote for the GOP this November, must have issued yet another fatwa to augment his threat in May:
Some of President Bush's most influential conservative Christian allies are becoming openly critical of the White House and Republicans in Congress, warning that they will withhold their support in the midterm elections unless Congress does more to oppose same-sex marriage, obscenity and abortion.
Christian conservative leaders have often threatened in the months before an election to withhold their support for Republicans in an effort to press for their legislative goals. In the 1990's, Dr. Dobson in particular became known for his jeremiads against the Republican party, most notably in the months before the 1998 midterm elections.
But the complaints this year are especially significant because they underscore how the broad decline in public approval for Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans is beginning to cut into their core supporters. The threatened defections come just two years after many Christian conservatives — most notably Dr. Dobson — abandoned much of their previous reservations and poured energy into electing Republicans in 2004.
Midterm Congressional elections tend to be won by whichever side can motivate more true believers to vote. Dr. Dobson and other conservatives are renewing their complaints about the Republicans at a time when several recent polls have shown sharp declines in approval among Republicans and conservatives. And compared with other constituencies, evangelical Protestants have historically been suspicious of the worldly business of politics and thus more prone to stay home unless they feel clear moral issues are at stake.
According to people who were at the meetings or were briefed on them, Dr. Dobson has made the same point more politely in a series of private conversations over the last two weeks in meetings with several top Republicans, including Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser; Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader; Representative J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the House speaker; and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the majority leader.
You can expect the boys in Congress to carry water by the bucketfuls for the special interests of evangelical fundamentalists. They've got a lot of 'splainin' to do. After June's defeat in the Senate, in July the House failed to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment that would have codified gay discrimination into U.S. Constitution. The setback couldn't have pleased Mullah Dobson and perhaps provoked some horse trading during the congressional break. Forget about taking care of America's needs. The GOP's true god, Politics, will hijack the Senate under the aegis of Bill Frist lest a plague of poll inertia descend upon House and Senate Republicans, O ye breakers of the commandments.

Yeah, Congress is so very broken. The legislative branch acts more like a partisan wooden puppet animated from strings held by GOP lobbyists, special interests, and the Bush Administration. With Bush's five judicial nominees up for review by the Senate Judicial Committee, Republicans like Mike DeWine of Ohio, who's behind Democrat Sherrod Brown by 2 points among registered voters, can strut his stuff for the camera and Dobson will have reason to mobilize evangelical extremists to the polls. The political ploy could backfire if Democrats use the opportunity to GOTV in an appeal to moderate and swing voters by painting Republicans "Apple Polisher Red," the hottest fall color for jackboots a go-go.

Had enough?