Sunday, January 29, 2006

Warning: This Column May Make Your Wife and Children Cry

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I have one question: just when did Republicans turn into such wimps?

Recently, during the nomination hearings for Judge Samuel Alito, Republicans like Focus on the Family deplored how the “cruelty” of Democratic senators had sent Mrs. Alito from the hearing room in tears.

The Democrats were supposedly to blame, even though at the time Mrs. Alito broke down, it was Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham who was speaking, complaining about those mean old Democrats asking all those pesky questions and, horror of horrors, expecting real answers. I mean, how dare they, in front of his wife and everything?

To Mrs. Alito: Ma’am, I’m not blaming you. I’m sure the whole thing was indeed stressful. It can’t have been made any easier by the fact that your tears are now being replayed over and over by manipulative Republicans using you for sympathy points. I blame them, not you. But I have to say this: If that snoozefest that passed for a questioning made you cry, then with all due respect, you ought to really reconsider whether Washington, D.C., is a place where you want to keep residing.

Now, turning to all you Republicans wringing your hands and going “ain’t it awful”: Grow up.

The guy’s looking for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. He was ducking and weaving like Muhammad Ali over his past statements concerning presidential power, his stated desire to overrule Roe vs. Wade and his membership in a racist and sexist organization founded to protest the admission of women and minorities to Princeton. A half-decent cross-examiner would have been nailing his hide to the wall.

Cry? I know lawyers who could make Judge Alito wet himself. He got off easy.

Not content to hide behind the skirts of Alito’s wife, the Republicans next trotted out the 12-year-old daughter of admitted felon Jack Abramoff. George Clooney, accepting a Golden Globe award, made an admittedly lame and sophomoric joke combining Abramoff’s first name with the last three letters of his last name. The joke was completely idiotic, and let me tell you, when you grow up with a name like “Dusty Rhoades,” you become something of a connoisseur of stupid name jokes.

Soon, however, the Republicans were having a mass attack of the vapors over the remark, thanks to an “open letter” Abramoff’s father wrote to Clooney (and of course the press), claiming that the joke had sent Abramoff’s 12-year-old daughter out of the room in tears, even though the girl was never mentioned.

Let’s review here. The Republicans are the people who didn’t blink an eye over calling Sen. Kerry’s wife a drunk and a lunatic. After the 2004 election, a Republican commentator crowed that soon the only Democrats that would be “allowed” would be female ones like South Dakota representative Stephanie Herseth who were “easy on the eyes” and whose purpose would be to serve as “comfort women” for Republicans.

I didn’t hear a lot of Republican outrage at one of their own gleefully looking forward to the forcible rape and sexual enslavement of Democratic female politicians then, so you’ll forgive me if I find their concern for wives and children less than credible now.

I recall when a member of Congress called the president of the United States a “scumbag”. I’m sure the teenage Chelsea Clinton shed a few tears over that, but did Republicans care? I don’t think so. And suddenly the Republicans are all “oh, my stars, think of the women and children” over softball questions in the Senate and a stupid joke at the Golden Globes? Spare me.

Heck, check out some of the letters to this very paper. When I get called an Islamic terrorist, do I get all tragic about how you made my wife or my little girl cry? No, because I’m not a wimp. I recognize that, like it or not, political discourse in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is a rough game.

In fact, it very much resembles political discourse in the founding days of this country, when pretty much anything went. John Adams’ supporters called Thomas Jefferson “an atheist, anarchist, demagogue, coward, mountebank, trickster and Francomaniac (whatever that is).”

Jefferson supporter Benjamin Franklin Bache (grandson of the famous Benjamin Franklin) called then-President Adams “old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, toothless Adams.” There is no record, however, of Adams’ supporters complaining that those mean old Jeffersonians were making Abigail cry.

Actually, they did worse. They rammed through the notorious “Alien and Sedition Acts” which were so broadly worded that they effectively made it a crime to criticize the government. We were, after all, being threatened by a foreign power, namely France. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, that story had a happy ending; Adams and his party were voted out, at least partially because of public outcry against the Sedition Act. Because most Americans aren’t wimps. And they don’t like politicians who can’t take a few questions — or even a bad and stupid joke. You want to improve the level of discourse? Look to cleaning your own house. Until then, stop whining and acting all indignant every time someone dares to stand up to you.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, practices law and is feeling particularly cranky this week in Carthage.


Shimmy said...

I'm so proud I made Mrs. Alito cry. Her tears are my muse.

David Terrenoire said...

Nice post, Dusty. I'll give you a bit of press over at Dark Planet on this.