Saturday, May 24, 2008

When the Buzzwords Fail

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I tell you, folks, last week was not a good one for the favorite buzzwords of the Far Right.

We start with one of those favorite rhetorical bugbears of the wingnut, the so-called "unelected judge." Whenever a legal decision doesn't go their way, the cry goes up by the politicos of the GOP torch-and-pitchfork brigade: "unelected judges!"

It was no different recently when California's Supreme Court struck down that state's ban on gay marriage on state constitutional grounds.

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, House minority whip, fumed with clockwork predictability: "Today, the decision of unelected judges to overturn the will of the people of California on the question of same-sex marriage demonstrates the lengths that unelected judges will go to to substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people."

See that? He got the buzzword in twice. I think they get some kind of bonus if they do that. Or maybe Dick Cheney just promises not to shoot you for a whole year .

Well, Roy, old son, there's only one problem. The judges who voted to overturn the ban are, it's true, appointed by the duly elected governor, but they then have to be approved by a vote of the people at the next general election. In fact, all of the seven justices participating in the decision were elected by 69 percent or greater of the voters.

So much for "unelected judges," and so much for the idea that the leadership of the House Republicans has the foggiest idea what it's talking about.

Then you had poor right-wing talk show host Kevin James, who on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" show on MSNBC began literally screaming at the top of his lungs the moment he was allowed to speak about how Barack Obama was another "appeaser like Neville Chamberlain" for his position that the U.S. should have talks with Iran.

Matthews asked, not once but several times, if James actually knew who Neville Chamberlain was and if he knew what Chamberlain had done that constituted appeasement. I won't bore you with the five minutes of twisting, dodging, and outright ignoring of the question that James engaged in, but suffice it to say that the answer was, "No, James had not the slightest idea what Neville Chamberlain actually did that could actually be called appeasement of Adolf Hitler." (Hint: It involved giving up half of Czechoslovakia.)

If simply sitting down and talking with enemies is enough to constitute "appeasement," then let's look at some other famous "appeasers" in history.

Ronald Reagan: The patron saint of the right presided over an administration that conducted numerous high-level meetings with a state that supported terrorism, actually had nuclear weapons that were actually pointed right at us, and who had threatened to destroy us in the name of their ideology. (That would be the Soviet Union, in case you didn't know.) Oh, the shame! Oh, the appeasement! We even, horror of horrors, had an actual embassy, with ambassadors and everything, in the heart of the enemy capital!

But St. Ronald never sat down and talked with any Iranians, by golly, at least according to Sen. John McCain. Well, I suppose that's true, since the hostages were released at the moment he became president. It should be noted, however, that what St. Ronald DID do was approve the sale of weapons to Iran, including sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles that could have been used against American planes, and state-of-the art anti-tank missiles that could have been used against American armor. But he never did talk to them, that's true. That would have been appeasement (insert eye-roll here).

George Bush the Elder: James Baker, Poppy Bush's former secretary of state, made, by his own count, 15 trips to Syria in 1990 and 1991 -- at a time when Syria was on the list as a "state sponsor of terrorism."

And, he noted in a 2006 interview, " On the 16th trip Syria changed 25 years of policy and agreed for the first time in history to come sit at the table with Israel, which is what Israel wanted at the time. And, thereby, implicitly recognized Israel's right to exist." Talking to an enemy, he said, is not appeasement: "You don't just talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies, as well. And the diplomacy involves talking to your enemies."

But Reagan and Bush the Elder came from another time for the Republican Party, a time that the GOP, whatever its other faults, was at least run by grownups and not by mouth-breathers who have trouble articulating any concept that can't be reduced to a bumper sticker. What will they do now that the buzzwords are failing them?

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. His third novel, "Safe and Sound" will be released in paperback on June 3.


Anonymous said...

Instead of "Far Right", I move we dub them the "Far Wrong".

JD Rhoades said...

works for me.

Bill Cameron said...

I's all confused. Didn't unelected judges guarantee the inauguration of an unelected presimadent?

Anonymous said...

In all honesty, I don't WANT judges to be subject to the Political Whims of the Moment. Judges are to rule on matters of LAW, not of political popularity! If a judge is truly bad, there's always the impeachment/removal process. But that, like the impeachment of a President, should be subject to more than a 51% majority of the 22% of people who actually bothered to vote.

Clair D. said...

The scary thing is, that when they use those buzzwords (like unelected judge) people who 'trust' the speaker get all hot and bothered, forgoing any real research. The buzzword users KNOW that certain people will rally behind what sounds like it supports the position they want.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Could be worse. Here in Pennsylvania, we have elected judges.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

JD Rhoades said...

Peter: we supposedly have that in North Carolina, too.

What ends up happening, more often than not, is that a judge retires in the middle of his term, which means the governor picks the successor (usually on the recommendation of the local bar).

The appointed judge still has to run at the next term, but he or she runs as an incumbent, which means that they get in...unless they're a total disaster.

Louise Ure said...

Actually, Chris Matthews asked that Doofus "What is appeasement?" twenty-four times before the idiot finally said "I don't know."

And if Democrats need to start speaking in bumper sticker terms, let's start with: I'm voting for Obama.