Thursday, October 23, 2003

Orrin Hatch, Stunt Man

Despicable! Americans dying in Iraq five months after the mission was supposedly accomplished? Outrageous! Workers loosing their livelihoods because their jobs have been sent to India? Offensive! Disparities in drug sentencing that give Limbaugh rehab for using and distributing but 65-year old Tommy Chong jail time and a fine for selling bongs? The hyperbole is not directed at any of these situations, but at a political cartoon.

During yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Senator Orrin Hatch used theatrics to throw Democrats off stride during Janice Rogers Brown's confirmation hearing by using a cartoon from Read Black Commentator's article on the hearing fireworks and on Judge Brown's scary background. If you have a media player you can see the two and a half hour hearing on C-Span. The anti-cartoon demagoguery starts almost at the very beginning of the hearing.

Just to set the record straight, 165 Bush judicial nominees have been confirmed, only three did not make it to a vote on the Senate floor. Two percent of Bush nominees have been rejected. How many Clinton nominees were never voted upon? A total of 63, 20% of his nominations were left without resolution.

Hatch and other conservatives accused Democrats of being anti-Hispanic when they rejected Miguel Estrada. They called their colleagues anti-Catholic when William Pryor was not confirmed (see my September 24th post). This time around anyone who questions Judge Rogers Brown will be labeled a racist discriminating against a conservative because she is black. Hatch and friends displayed the cartoon prominently during the hearing and watched gleefully as democratic senators out did one other in coming up with adjectives to decry the evils of a political cartoon.

Conservatives are terribly thin skinned. They can't take the Boondocks, Black Commentator, or made for tv movies about their idol Ronald Reagan. Now they are once again claiming persecution because a judge rated as less than qualified is nominated as a lifetime appointee to the federal judiciary. God forbid anyone question them.

As usual this is the real issue with the right wing. The rest of us are supposed to be quiet and let them have their way with us, sort of like the women groped by Governor-elect Schwarzenegger. In the case of judicial appointments Bush and company prove their strategic mettle by choosing nominees they know will not be confirmed. They then use the rejection as a means of attacking democrats and making it appear that the right are being treated unfairly.

When will Democrats wake up and smell the coffee? When Bush is inaugurated again in January 2005? I don't even know if that will do it. Is their a Democrat who will take Hatch on the next time he uses a political cartoon, or race baiting, or faith baiting to smear Democrats? Will the Democrats ever create vacancies on the federal bench the way Republicans did when Clinton was President?

We know the answers to these questions. I am still trying to figure out if democratic acquiescence is a matter of stupidity, expediency, or fear. Are we like the deer caught in headlights who sees the oncoming car but freezes in its tracks? Well, we aren't deer. We are human beings with the capacity to think and hopefully learn from our experiences. Our experiences on the senator Judiciary Committee should teach us to give no quarter to Orrin Hatch the next time he tries to pull another political stunt.