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The Tentacle


June 8, 2009

The Summer of Our Political Discontent

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a scorcher. No, I don’t mean the summer temperature. I’m talking about the tone of public discourse.

 

A few blazing examples make my point about the heat behind the rhetoric.

 

Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas-based late-term abortion provider, was shot dead while serving as an usher in his local church. His killer has been identified by media outlets as a radical anti-government zealot. Dr. Tiller had been the target of scorn, protest, and threat ever since his decision to terminate pregnancies beyond the 21st week.

 

Major media outlets, traditionally aligned with liberal causes, suggest that Dr. Tiller is dead because conservatives attacked the practice of abortion, especially abortions performed after the stage of viability outside the womb had been reached.

 

NBC News used footage of protests outside Dr. Tiller’s clinic to nail the point home. A hand-lettered sign with “Tiller the Baby Killer” painted in blood-red letters provides all the visual evidence that progressives need to link an emotionally disturbed lone gunman with the national anti-abortion movement.

 

Scott Roeder, the accused murderer, is in police custody. He can, and should, answer for his crime. Whether he says that divine guidance led him to this violent outburst, or whether he just wanted the publicity that accompanies such a high-profile crime, Mr. Roeder will be judged by a jury of his peers. No doubt the jury selection process for that trial will examine the national divide over abortion. That is as it should be.

 

Traditional conservatives are carefully to avoid offering comfort and support to a murder suspect. No less an influential conservative movement than the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) has issued a press release condemning Mr. Roeder for committing a murder, although the release also mentions Dr. Tiller’s ongoing “criminal” conduct of late-term abortions. Liberal media outlets are doing their best to plant the seeds of this crime on the right-to-life movement.

 

Let a judge and jury do their jobs.

 

On another topic, President Barack Obama kept a promise made to his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama. He took her on a romantic trip to New York City, with dinner at a trendy restaurant and tickets to a hot Broadway show.

 

Sounds to me like somebody is bucking for “Husband of the Year.” Can you blame the guy? Let’s face it, if you had the ability to bypass long lines and short-circuit sold out box offices to impress your best girl, are you telling me you wouldn’t do it? Of course you would.

 

The problem is that President Obamas just aren’t like anybody else. No Acela Express train ticket for them, and no Delta shuttle to LaGuardia, either. When the leader of the free world goes out to dinner and a show, the production value of the trip rivals any theatrical offering.

 

Tables are cleared around them. Rows of theater seats are emptied, lest the Obamas be forced to rub elbows (and other body parts) with regular patrons.

 

Dozens of armed Secret Service, motorcades, Air Force One, Marine One, and inconvenienced patrons are par for the course. Republican officials and conservative pundits have seized on this trip as evidence of excess in a time of economic agony for Joe the Plumbers everywhere.

 

Sorry, but this one just doesn’t wash. Come on, the guy has his finger on the button 24/7. His day is managed in five minute increments. He’s busy taking over banks, car manufacturers, and trying to control the messaging of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., CA).

 

You mean he can’t burn up a little taxpayer dough on a spiffy night-out in New York? Give him a break. He’ll need his strength to solve California’s bankruptcy, coming soon to a newspaper near you. I mean if the Prez can’t use a little juice to impress his wife, why bother being president at all? At least he’s not messing with interns in the Oval Office, for heaven’s sake.

 

Finally, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation looms over the rest of the summer of our political discontent like a heavy-bladed axe. Too much has already been written about this, so I won’t add any more to the question of her appointment.

 

I will point out that Democratic leadership wants her confirmation on a fast-track. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., VT), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has announced that hearings will begin in July, hoping to have a decision in time to seat Judge Sotomayor by the first court session in the fall.

 

Republicans are understandably upset. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., AL) indicates that Judge Sotomayor has an impressive (read long and full of controversy) record of written opinions that must be carefully reviewed before the hearings begin.

 

Senator Sessions fears that a fast-tracked confirmation process would preclude the GOP from asking about the most controversial and contentious of these cases.

 

Two words for Sen. Jeff Session: No, DUH! Is he kidding? Of course the Democrats want to avoid the judge having to face tough questions. That’s the whole point of a judicial nomination, after all.

 

Prediction: if Senator Sessions and his GOP colleagues are afforded some time to review the record and question Judge Sotomayor fairly on her judicial record, we can expect her to be confirmed with a comfortable margin, including some bi-partisan support. If, on the other hand, the Senate leadership silences the minority party, then you can anticipate a long and contentious battle played out over the long, hot summer of our political discontent.

 



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