One of the ways the GOP has managed to maintain power lately is by harnessing the voting power of the crazies and using it to their advantage through various ‘wedge’ issues in the cultural wars. An easy way to get the homophobic bigot vote is to put up some proposals ‘defending marriage’ and, Voila!, a certain segment of the society will vote for you despite anything else you do (although truth be told, I don’t recall any Democrats running on a pro-gay marriage ticket). Aside from the silliness of the idea that marriage needs to be defended (really- marriage is so good and so strong even the gays want it!), you get away from this by dressing up these proposals that are clearly limited to limiting the rights of a certain segment of society by ‘defending’ some ‘traditional value.’ Noble cowards, indeed.
In fact, it was the blatant pandering to the lunatic wing of the religious right (for the wingnuts, I am able to understand that all religious people are not the religious right, and that not all of the religious right is insane- distinctions, cool things, really) that made it so distasteful is that the GOP response was CLEARLY for little more than partisan political reasons. it was simply catering to the wet dream of the Priests for Life and the rest of the rabid fringe- damn near everyone else was appalled by the behavior of DeLay et. al. calling poor Judge George Greer an ‘activist’ and making this statement:
“Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo’s friends in this time of deep sorrow.”
As to whether DeLay actually gave a shit about Terri Schiavo, I have my doubts. On the other hand, he clearly cares about the base, so he is willing to throw them a meaty bone whenever he can. The problem is, it appears that years of rhetoric can have a substantial impact on the behavior of the less balanced:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor have been the targets of death threats from the “irrational fringe” of society, people apparently spurred by Republican criticism of the high court.
Ginsburg revealed in a speech in South Africa last month that she and O’Connor were threatened a year ago by someone who called on the Internet for the immediate “patriotic” killing of the justices.
Security concerns among judges have been growing.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter joked earlier this year that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned. Over the past few months O’Connor has complained that criticism, mainly by Republicans, has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues like gay marriage.
Worry is not limited to the Supreme Court. Three quarters of the nation’s 2,200 federal judges have asked for government-paid home security systems, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this week.
Ginsburg said the Web threat was apparently prompted by legislation in Congress, filed by Republicans, that would bar judges from relying on foreign laws or court decisions.
“It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable support. And one not-so-small concern – they fuel the irrational fringe,” she said in a speech posted online by the court earlier this month and first reported Wednesday by LegalTimes.com.
The obvious talking points response to this is that “Tom DeLay and those like him are not responsible for what a few random crazies might do,” and in all fairness, that is technically correct. If someone were to murder a judge, Tom DeLay and those like him would not be to blame. They would, however, be responsible for years of irresponsible and self-serving rhetoric- rhetoric that is driving me away from the party I have been a member of for 22 years.