Thursday, June 09, 2005

Now that it can no longer affect the outcome of her confirmation battle, The New York Times feels free to recount some outrageous things Janice Rogers Brown has said. And we learn that whereas Howard Dean apparently went beyond the pale when he called the GOP "pretty much a white Christian party," it's OK for a future federal appeals court judge to talk like this:

"In the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery," she has warned in speeches. Society and the courts have turned away from the founders' emphasis on personal responsibility, she has argued, toward a culture of government regulation and dependency that threatens fundamental freedoms.

"We no longer find slavery abhorrent," she told the conservative Federalist Society a few years ago. "We embrace it."

You say you support Social Security? Unemployment insurance? Federally backed student loans? You may as well be saying you support the bullwhipping of slaves.

The problem for Howard Dean is that decades of conservative rhetoric have conditioned Americans to believe that Democrats and liberals are dangerously far from the mainstream, while Republican right-wingers are solidly in the American grain -- so it's inevitable that he's going to be attacked when he seems to cross a line. But when a right-winger crosses the line in a way that's clearly outrageous, the mainstream press simply has learned to suppress that fact. Ann Coulter is portrayed as a mere jokester and satirist rather than a hatemonger; Janice Rogers Brown's vilest group slanders are kept out of the press until she's safely on her way to the federal bench.

So Howard can give 'em hell -- but if we want it to be effective, our side first has to lay a lot of groundwork to condition the press and public to accept the self-evident but now apparently unacceptable notion that a number of Republicans are far out of the mainstream.

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