Friday, April 15, 2005

Give 'em Enough Rope...

The New York TImes reported today that Dr. Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader is lending his voice to a publicity video being distributed by Christian activists starting on April 24 --- a day the Christian PR machine has deemed "Justice Sunday." The poster promoting the televangelical event carries an image of a white teenage boy quizzically looking at a gavel in one of his hands and a bible in the other, accompanied by the taglines, "Public service? Faith in Christ? He should not have to choose." and "The filibuster against people of faith." Well, last time I checked, we still had separation of church and state in the U.S., so the answer to the poster's question is really quite simple. The teenage boy doesn't have to choose, he can have both. And, constitutionally, he is bound to separate one from the other if he ever decides to become a public servant.

Dr. Bill Frist, by lending a hand to these Christian PR specialists, seems to be coming dangerously close to violating the oath of his office. One can only assume that the broadcast will be an attack on Senate Democrats' use of the filibuster in opposing religionists nominated to federal court judgeships by the Bush administration. If Frist seems unfamiliar with constitutional law, at least he is intimate with the rules of the Senate which he is threatening to change if these nominees continue to be held up by filibustering tactics. A look at the Senate's website shows a little history of the filibuster and one such rule change (cloture) that affected it. Of course, Dr. Bill is probably well within his purview to junk tradition and try and get a majority of his colleagues in the Senate to change their rules. That's not what's so ironic here. Lately in this conflict, he has been likening this proposed rule change to some kind of constitutional duty that Democrats are obstructing, saying things like:
"It's consistent with the Constitution, where we are as a body to give advice and consent, and the only way we can give advice and consent is an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate."
Both bodies of Congress have always been full of this kind of maneuvering for partisan power. It's funny to see so many scholars flexing their head veins over these issues. What's not funny is the extent to which people like Dr. Bill Frist are willing to go to ignore the sacred separation of church and state and come out in the media supporting extreme religious positions which are blatantly toying with the U.S. Constitution.

It seems to me that we should all be more worried about this fanatic minority trying to take over our government by successfully purchasing the souls of ambitious politicians like Dr. Bill Frist, rather than quibbling about Senate rules, the "nuclear option," and how many times the filibuster has been used by each party. John Dean, our favorite second act American, thinks Dr. Bill may hang himself if he actually did try to exercise the nuclear option, but in the meantime enough rope is being furiously manufactured for the rest of us.

The 21st-century fascist youth poster boy is staring us right in the face, and he has a gavel in his hand. Isn't it clear that Dr. Bill Frist should not be giving political speeches on TV with these people?


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