As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dobson Cries Poor

I don't really trust anything James Dobson says, and his extended whine that the liberals have run roughshod over the country and nobody can stop it doesn't ring true either. Sure the hate-crimes bill will likely pass into law, but Dobson has something of a larger game here. On other culture-war issues, Dobson and his religious right cohorts have a plan.

If President Obama nominates Judge Diane P. Wood to the Supreme Court, conservatives plan to attack her as an “outspoken” supporter of “abortion, including partial-birth abortion.”

If he nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor, they plan to accuse her of being “willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution.”

And if he nominates Kathleen M. Sullivan, a law professor at Stanford, they plan to denounce her as a “prominent supporter of homosexual marriage.”

Preparing to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Obama’s eventual choice to succeed Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring, conservative groups are working together to stockpile ammunition. Ten memorandums summarizing their research, obtained by The New York Times, provide a window onto how they hope to frame the coming debate.

This is not a strategy to defeat the nominee - Republicans have basically given up on that. This is a strategy to demonize an eventual sitting Supreme Court Justice. Right now the religious right lacks a lightning rod, and of the ones they use, the President is too popular and the rest of the Democratic leadership to unknown. They need to raise the profile of an enemy, and claim that they are powerless to stop this enemy's rise to prominence. The culture wars feed off of a sense of powerlessness. It made no sense when Republicans sat in every seat of power in Washington. But the reversal puts things back in the natural state for those on the right with a siege mentality. Armed with a new enemy, only THEN will Dobson and his charges fight back.

Now, I do believe these issues have lost their salience. That abortion poll floating around is flawed, and even if it weren't, the emphasis has waned.

Essentially, Democrats shouldn't take this bait. The religious right will always claim that they are being forcibly pushed out of the country, regardless of the concessions made or common ground sought. I don't mind President Obama's Notre Dame speech as a rhetorical instrument and an olive branch to moderates. On policy, however, the theocons will always claim they are under siege, whether true or not. Might as well give them their enemy and make some positive change in the meantime.

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