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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ethics and Rhetoric

I was happy to see this story concerning Republicans apparently backing down on the ethics rules changes that would have allowed a single person on the ethics committee to save Tom DeLay’s butt. Forgive me for being cynical, but I believe it probably has more to do with DeLay’s ongoing inability to admit that he may have done anything wrong – which transmits into an electoral liability – than it does any real concern for ethics. Not even a ride on Air Force One will save him from this.

While the House Republicans, known for being bulldogs on this issue, are learning how to compromise for the good of the Party - I mean country – the Senate Republicans are forgetting. Bill Frist, fresh from pandering to the Paranoid Anti-Biblical crowd, is saying that he doesn’t want to deal with Democrats and doesn’t have to. Dan Skinner reveals to use how it may have been because of Harry Reid’s blundered attempt to offer an olive branch. I think it is also a sign of why moderates generally do not make good leaders in Congress. Remember when Bill Frist was hailed as a moderate? What a difference two years makes.

Frist’s blatant play to the balcony also brought out this comment from one of the very judges causing this controversy. Ms. Brown has every right to speak her mind, and I defend that right. When someone uses that right to prove they are too biased to sit on a federal bench, though, it should not be ignored. Polling indicates that most Americans oppose changing the Senate rules to allow Republicans to ramrod such extremists through the Senate. Unfortunately, the schizophrenic nature of the American public (cause largely, I believe, by a general problem understanding things over a sixth grade level) also say they want to let these nominees get an open vote in the Senate.

The mixed signals obviously give politicians with no moral compass a bit of a pause. Do they let the court get stacked with Paranoid Anti-Biblical ideologues or do they adhere to the rules of the Senate? Do they simply do the unmentionable (which it shouldn’t be) and challenge the President to send less extreme nominations to Congress?

The problem with that is the rhetoric has already cast it as a war. Anyone who even speaks about moderation at this point is, by definition, a traitor. Everyone is now trapped in the rhetoric of their own making. The push to polarize the electorate is now at a spot that moderate Republicans are finding themselves alienated by the ideologically run Bush Administration.

The Republicans now have enough rope to hang themselves, Democrats just have to have the will power to tie a knot and hang on. More than that, we need a compelling vision to which people can tie their hopes and dreams. We need to stop being against everything and to start being for things. We have to get over the tendency to be nicer Republicans and start being better Democrats.

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