Sunday, March 20, 2005

Why have congressional Republicans been working the Terri Schiavo case so hard when polls show that most of America would support the removal her feeding tube? Yesterday's New York Times tried to answer that -- but missed an obvious reason.

The Times story mentioned pressure from religious conservatives, sincere concern about Schiavo's fate on the part of "Mr DeLay and other lawmakers" (yeah, right), and an eagerness on DeLay's part to change the subject from his fund-raising scandals.

But here's what the Times missed: the fact that this is part of a larger right-wing argument, namely that we are suffering from "judicial tyranny."

Note that it was just this week that the Senate Judiciary Committee dealt with the first of Bush's resubmitted judicial nominees, setting the stage for a possible exercise of the filibuster-quashing "nuclear option" in the full Senate. Note also that the top-selling right-wing book at this moment (#6 on the New York Times bestseller list as I write this) is Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America. Note that the The Empire Journal, a right-wing site that's taken up the Schiavo case, is selling STOP JUDICIAL TYRANNY magnets, suitable for the back of your SUV.

And there's a larger implicit message beyond that: "unelected judges" who impose "judicial tyranny" are doing just what leftists/liberals/Democrats always do -- they're unilaterally imposing their perverse will on America, in defiance of common decency and common sense.

That's the overarching message that wins elections for the GOP. Whether it's tenured-radical professors forcing our babies to espouse America-hatred in college classrooms or John Kerry calling for a "global test" on fighting terrorism or the ACLU requiring department-store clerks not to say "Merry Christmas," the evidence is overwhelming: People on the left have freakish notions and we force everyone to yield to them. (Yes, of course, every example I've given is a distortion of the truth. But large swaths of the public believe all of them are literally true.)

No, I don't know why our side can't paint DeLay and Florida Republicans and the religious right as the ones wearing the jackboots in this case. But that's the way it usually goes, isn't it?


I wrote that yesterday -- and after I wrote it, as if on cue, I discovered that a gentleman named Horace Cooper had written an op-ed for UPI making the precise "judicial tyranny" argument I was talking about.

So far the op-ed isn't widely circulated, but I think it's representative of right-wing thinking. Cooper says that George Greer, the Florida judge overseeing the case, has acted

as judge, jury, and executioner


more like the grim reaper than a neutral arbitrator upholding the law....

Cooper thinks Greer should be impeached, but

Unfortunately judges and their "amen choir" in the media and academia have successfully limited the use and frequency of this power. As a result, brazen acts of judicial usurpation go unabated as judge after judge plays the legal version of "Que es mas macho?" pursuing ever more extremist counter-culture agendas that would never pass in an open democratic public process.

There it is, in two sentences -- the whole argument, with nearly all the usual suspects rounded up.

(Cooper, by the way, has written for GOPUSA, former stomping grounds of Jeff Gannon, as well as for the "respectable" National Review Online.)

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