Right Hook

Wall Street Journal sees a Waco ending for Dems' filibuster "cult." Victor Hanson sees the upside of anti-Americanism. Plus: Sean Hannity dishes out marriage advice to the Runaway Groom.

Published May 5, 2005 10:38PM (EDT)

With the Senate back in session next week and the moment of reckoning upon the Republicans' so-called nuclear option to wipe out the judicial filibuster, the rhetoric from the far right has gone radioactive.

"The art of politics today is not to compromise, but to demonize," Brian Fahling of the American Family Association aptly noted on Wednesday. He was in fact referring to a recent speech by Al Gore denouncing the Republican effort to dismantle the filibuster as "an American heresy." Fahling went on to say that "Democrats like Mr. Gore wish to continue populating the federal courts with judges who fancy themselves masters of good and evil," and that "holding President Bush's nominees hostage is their only hope, as they see it, of continuing to impose their radical social agenda on a reluctant nation."

James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who previously offered glowing remarks likening Supreme Court justices to members of the Ku Klux Klan, revisited the Terri Schiavo saga in his April newsletter to constituents. "This cooperative effort between the judiciary and the media to kill an innocent woman," he said, "is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American history."

"Judicial hostility to faith, and especially Christianity has never been greater than today," Dobson went on. He urged supporters to pressure the seven "squishy" Republicans who haven't committed to nuking the filibuster. And he personally warned the legislators not to squander their party's rare grip on power:

"You have been made the majority in the House, in the Senate, and a Republican occupies the White House. Together they represent the coveted 'Triple Crown' of American politics. If you fritter away the responsibility to reform the courts, and if you ignore the 'values' that motivated those who supported you at the polls, you do not deserve the trust given to you."

Death to the filibuster cult
If the GOP does go nuclear, will the Dems go the way of Waco? Daniel Henninger, deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, says that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is "acting like David Koresh" over the judicial filibuster. He foresees a fiery ending to the standoff.

"For Democrats, judicial philosophy is a cultural Armageddon," Henninger wrote. "Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy have turned the Senate into a Branch Davidian compound. No one in the liberal cult is allowed to leave, including the hostage nominees -- unless they recant their conservatism. How many Senate Democrats plan to be in this bunker when Bill Frist's ATF squad detonates the 'nuclear option'?"

The good of bad cop
While the filibuster wars tarnish America on the home front, military historian and Hoover Institute fellow Victor Davis Hanson is arguing that a surge of anti-Americanism around the globe may actually be a good thing:

"Last year the hysteria about the hostility toward the United States reached a fevered pitch. Everyone from Jimmy Carter to our Hollywood elite lamented that America had lost its old popularity. It was a constant promise of the Kerry campaign to restore our good name and 'to work with our allies.' The more sensitive were going to undo the supposed damage of the last four years. Whole books have been devoted to this peculiar new anti-Americanism, but few have asked whether or not such suspicion of the United States is, in fact, a barometer of what we are doing right -- and while not necessarily welcome, at least proof that we are on the correct track."

The autocrats and militants of the Middle East, Hanson says, are "deeply terrified by what is going on in Iraq. Mostly this animus arises because we are distancing ourselves from corrupt grandees, even as we have become despised as incendiary democratizers by the Islamists. Is that risky and dangerous? Yes. Bad? Hardly."

The not-so-unwelcome animosity, Hanson says, isn't limited to the Arabs: The United Nations (which "has sadly become a creepy organization"), the European Union (a "silly, vast complex of bureaucrats" trying "to control what 400 million speak, eat, and think"), and Mexico (which "enjoys one of the richest landscapes in the world" but "can't feed its own people, so it exports its poorest to the United States") all contribute a healthy rancor.

"America should not gratuitously welcome such dislike," Hanson says, "but we should not apologize for it either." Rather, it is "often reason to be proud, since much of the invective arises from the growing American insistence on principles abroad."

One has to wonder if those principles include the launching of a new dirty war in the Middle East, or the Bush government's secret "rendering" of terrorist suspects into the hands of regimes that torture them. (Hanson himself has in fact argued that complicity in torture is a bad idea.)

Hanson concludes his case for America the not-so-beautiful by surveying a global landscape of potential ingrates:

"When Europe orders all American troops out; when Japan claims our textbooks whitewash the Japanese forced internment or Hiroshima; when China cites unfair trade with the United States; when South Korea says get the hell off our DMZ; when India complains that we are dumping outsourced jobs on them; when Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians refuse cash aid; when Canada complains that we are not carrying our weight in collective North American defense; when the United Nations moves to Damascus; when the Arab Street seethes that we are pushing theocrats and autocrats down its throat; when Mexico builds a fence to keep us out; when Latin America proclaims a boycott of the culturally imperialistic Major Leagues; and when the world ignores American books, films, and popular culture, then perhaps we should be worried. But something tells me none of that is going to happen in this lifetime."

O'Reilly on Limbaugh: Where's the beef?
Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly used part of his show on Monday to defend Rush Limbaugh, who faces a court battle in Florida linked to his illicit-drug problem. In a discussion with Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano about the legal case regarding Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers, including OxyContin, O'Reilly scolded Florida prosecutors for going after his fellow right-wing icon.

O'REILLY: Now, why would the state want to do that? I mean, why would they want to seize his medical records on a, you know, on a beef that's a prescription-drug beef, which is a low-level beef, you know?

NAPOLITANO: It's so-called doctor shopping. I think they're after him because of who he is.

As Media Matters.com notes, however, O'Reilly had a slightly different beef with OxyContin during one of his shows back in October of 2003 -- when he acknowledged the drug as a "heroin substitute" that had the potential to be "an enormous problem."

Run away from that bride?
Fox News would never miss out, of course, on the big buzz story of the week -- but introducing Sean Hannity, marriage counselor? Cashing in on an "exclusive" interview with Jennifer Wilbanks' besieged fiancé John Mason, Hannity took the opportunity to show some compassionate conservatism.

HANNITY: You don't want people to judge her on this event?

MASON: Absolutely not, man. Ain't we all messed up? [I] mean, haven't we all made mistakes?

HANNITY: The things I've done in life are a lot worse than that.

MASON: I've made some doozies too, man.

HANNITY: We're in your church right here, where we're doing this interview. And your faith is obviously something that's very, very important to you and your pastor ... You know, is it OK to reevaluate a relationship after something has happened, while you're forgiving her?

MASON: Sure.

HANNITY: Do you know what I mean by that?

MASON: Yeah, that's fine. You probably reevaluate your relationship all the time, I would imagine.

HANNITY: Would it be wrong to reevaluate if this is definitely what you want to do? You have no doubt in your mind you want to still get married, in other words?

MASON: Yes, absolutely.


MASON: Yes, I mean, I think some things need to happen first. And we need to talk about a few things, and she needs some treatment, for lack of a better word.

HANNITY: But you don't seem concerned to me. Would you worry that this would be an indicator how she may deal with stressful situations, which we all know will come up in the course of a marriage?

MASON: Right. No.

HANNITY: Not at all?


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By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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