Skip to comments.The Loss of Civility - We Are One Zotted Family
Posted on 05/15/2005 8:15:51 AM PDT by one happy family of man
For those hoping that a second term would cool the seething resentment of George Bush and his supporters over having to live in a democratic society, it was a sobering moment:
Bush Resubmits 20 Nominations for Federal Judgeships
Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President George W. Bush will resubmit 20 federal judicial nominations, reigniting a battle with Democrats who accuse the nominees of hostility to abortion rights and the environment.
The list includes seven of the 10 candidates whose nominations failed during Bush's first term because of Democratic filibusters that blocked Senate confirmation votes. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called the nominees "extremist'' and said the Senate shouldn't reconsider them.
We shouldn't have been surprised. George Bush has been nothing if not consistent in his determination to brush aside anyone who disagrees with him and get his way, no matter what the consequences. That consistency goes a long way toward explaining not only why so many Americans hate Bush and why so many people in other nations hate America but why civil debate in this country has gone the way of moderate Republicans.
Bush didn't just make a point of nominating a number of judges whose views were well outside reasonable expectations of impartiality, fairness and moderation; after the constitutional process had run its course, and the Senate had approved 106 of Bush's 131 federal nominations, he used the rejection of his most extreme nominees to attack Democrats as "obstructionists."
In other words: A branch of government did its job. Bush and his party didn't like the results. But rather than seeking common ground with less objectionable nominations such compromise being the greatest strength of the world's pre-eminent democratic government Bush promptly resubmitted the unacceptable ones.
Now Tom DeLay, Bush's top thug in Congress, is following the lead of his party's leader by personally attacking judges including at least one Supreme Court justice whose decisions he disagrees with.
How does one engage in "civil" debate with elected officials who have made defiance, obstinacy and unwillingness to compromise official policy?
They made war on Iraq when the rest of the world urged restraint and patience. When the UN wouldn't endorse the aggression, Bush's axis of dweebils attacked it with a campaign of hostility and ridicule a campaign that continues over two years later with the nomination of the suitably belligerent and intolerant John Bolton to be our ambassador.
Bolton's confirmation hearings have told us everything there is to know about the loss of civility. There was Foreign Relations chairman Richard Lugar declaring that confirmation was inevitable because there are more Republicans on his committee than Democrats; saying, in effect, that nothing actually discussed or revealed in the hearings actually mattered, as Republicans will blindly support anything Bush says, does or wants the larger good of the country and the world be damned.
(News Flash: Allegations Thursday from a former ambassador that Bolton lied in his confirmation testimony, coming on top of the nominee's history of contempt for international institutions, abuse of subordinates and throwing things at people who disagree with him may have, at long last, imperiled his confirmation, though not irretrievably. Never underestimate the power of unapologetic partisanship.)
You'll recall that Bill Clinton promised to end the ban on gays in the military, but compromised in the face of strong opposition. And that he tried to reform health care, but accepted defeat when it became clear that America wasn't ready. And that the first President Bush reversed himself fatally, in terms of his prospects for a second term when economic reality and a concern for the welfare of the country compelled him to raise taxes. And that Ronald Reagan acknowledged that "mistakes were made" in the Iran-Contra scandal. And that JFK swiftly shouldered responsibility for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
Those men, whatever their faults, at least had a basic respect for the particular genius of a political system based on compromise and artful persuasion. But W never learned that respect. Never even tried. Like most people of meager intellect, limited curiosity and even more limited competence, he's too insecure to see compromise and persuasion based on the strength of ideas as anything but marks of weakness. Once he makes a decision which he does on the basis of the few facts he is able to absorb and his "gut instincts" (see Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack") he's afraid to deviate from it, fearing that everyone (not just 48 percent of the electorate and the entire rest of the world) will recognize him for the fraud he is.
So, again: How do you civilly engage people who, owing to well-founded insecurities and long-standing, deeply ingrained hate, have declared war on the most vital precepts of constitutional government, and have consistently put political gain ahead of the national interest?
You don't. You can't, the way you can't have fulfilling, mutually satisfying sex with someone who finds you physically repugnant. The way you can't reason with psychotics; to wit:
"[Former Bush Treasury Secretary] Paul ONeill God love him he just didnt get it. Some of the stuff in that book did not happen. Suskind knows how to sell books. I think he made stuff up. Richard Clarke [former counterterrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations] used to be a friend of mine. Most of the stuff I was there for. Some of the stuff in that book did not happen." -- Republican strategist and author Mary Matalin on books critical of the Bush administration by insiders Paul O'Neill (with Ron Suskind) and Richard Clarke.
Two respected public servants both Republicans tell similar tales of Bush administration deceit and ineptitude, and the conservative response is ... what else? Attack and deny.
It's the only response available to rigid, brutish ideologues. And it's a hell of a lot easier than rational, civil debate.
All of which begs the question: Is a return to some degree of civility even possible in our political debate?
No. Not as long as you have the Senate majority leader joining Christian extremists in a church pulpit to claim Democrats are "against people of faith."
And nuts like Sen. John Cornyn suggesting a link between the recent murders of a judge, another judge's family members and courtroom staff and so-called "judicial activism."
Yet their may be reason to hope. If Americans pay attention to the way Republicans are subverting our most cherished values fairness, fiscal responsibility, separation of powers, and independent judiciary, separation of church and state next year's midterm elections may yield some progress in a return to civil and rational discourse.
Current, real-life example: To see how hate and ignorance have poisoned political debate at the lowest levels of society, check out the reaction of the crew at FreeRepublic.com to news that Rep. Henry Waxman is accusing the Bush administration based on its admitted record of inaccuracy of trying to conceal the true number of terrorist incidents.
Attack and deny, attack and deny.
You don't sound very happy.
Plus, look at all the incidents your hero clinton covered up..
You're new around here eh?
Good morning troll. Quiet at DU this AM?
Good Question! Your response?
According to liberals most murders occur in the
family, better talk to your Islamic relatives before
it's too late for you.
Bev Harris is only $10 away from uncovering Ohio vote fraud. Have you donated yet?
In before the ban & zot
In before zot? My first time ever!
What bilge. Do I hear a baby crying in the back ground?
Ibrahim Hooper? Is that you?
Imagine getting re-elected with the most total of votes ever in a USA election, and actually thinking the American people support your positions.
Too bad there isn't a single person on the other side with any intelligence, then they wouldn't send fools like this one.
Yes! Oh, I'm so happy! I'd like to thank the Academy, my producer, all the little people...
I'm sorry, did you say something? I was in the middle of a beautiful dream that involved me, Lindsay Lohan and a large tub of chocolate pudding...
"How does one engage in "civil" debate with elected officials who have made defiance, obstinacy and unwillingness to compromise official policy?"
This is exactly what the Republicans have been saying - these Democrats refuse to compromise.