Apr 192005
 

Or a Klever Kreepy Knave with a shrewd political plan?

According to Josh Marshall, the Rev. James Dobson, DD (Doctor of Divinity, or Daffy Duck, or both) claims to smell the odor of a burning cross drifting from our nation’s highest court. I’d written about this previously.

James Dobson compares the "men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan" to the "black-robed men" on the Supreme Court.

Focus on the Family needs to change its name to Focus on the Fruitcakes, or the Christian right is getting ready to fight the Mother of All Armageddons to help the Rovians push their court-packing, filibuster-busting judicial juggernaut through the Senate.

I suspect it’s the latter. Yes, Dobson’s crazy, and yes, he does think God has a direct line to the religious radio receiver embedded in his pineal gland. But I think he’s more cunning crazy than crazed crazy. If Dobson has taken to comparing the likes of Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia to the Grand Dragons and Exalted Cyclopses of the Knights Invisible, there’s probably a fairly shrewd tactical reason behind it.

I don’t think Dobson really believes the Supremes are the moral equivalent of the KKK– not even Justice Kennedy. I don’t think he expects his shock troops to believe it either. But I think he does recognize that with temperatures (and tempers) already running so hot on the Hezbollah right, he has to push the hate speech to even wilder extremes to get the frenzied reaction he wants.

Which brings us back to motives — and not just Dobson’s. The image I get from watching the Christian right these days is of a race car driver at the starting line, ferociously revving the engine and waiting for the checkered flag to pop the clutch.

This is all about torque, in other words. Dobson and his fellow ayatollahs want to see their Bible feyadeen absolutely frothing at the mouth — mad enough to walk through fire, if that’s what it takes, to get at those tyrannical liberal judges.

I think this is Dobson’s idea of a legislative strategy. (Or may be it’s just pledge week; you can never be sure with these guys.) But my best guess is that the ayatollahs, and maybe the Rovians as well (assuming we can still draw lines between them), have drawn certain conclusions about the political battle they’re about to fight, and are preparing their troops accordingly.

In a democracy — particularly one as dysfunctional as this one — a small, noisy minority can usually have its way over a large but passive majority, especially if the issue at hand is one the minority cares passionately about but the majority does not.

However, if the passive majority starts to pay closer attention — or even worse, develops some forceful opinions of its own — then the road immediately gets tougher for the true believers.

I think that’s the problem Dobson and his fellow ayatollahs face now. The polls show broad and growing opposition to the nuclear option, plus a strong desire to see the Democrats act as a brake on Republican extremism. Yet the next few months may be the last chance for the ayatollahs to cash in the chits they earned in the last election. Bush has given them the wacko nominees they demanded. But unless they can break the Senate filibuster, there almost certainly will come a point where the Rovians deem their end of the bargain fulfilled and move on to other things — like the 2006 elections.

If broad public opinion continues to go south — on Bush, the GOP Congress and the extremist agenda of the Christian right — it isn’t likely the Rovians will want a knock-down drag-out over the filibuster in next year’s session. In other words, for the New Crusaders, it may be now or never: Either they storm the walls and capture the judicial Jerusalem, or they watch their army gradually grow demoralized and fade away.

When the passive majority is against them, the noisy minority has but one option: To make even more noise, and work even harder to intimidate the political hacks into doing their bidding. Dobson understands that this could take every bit of nastiness and fanaticism his followers have inside them — which means he’s got to give them every bit of hate-filled rhetoric that he’s got inside him.

And so the Christian right’s attacks on the bench grow ever more hysterical. Judge Greer as Caiaphas? Joseph Stalin as a legal role model? Clarence Thomas as Klan leader?? It all seems completely deranged until you think about what the ayatollahs are trying to accomplish. This is red-meat politics at its absolute reddest — blood red. And the Supreme Court may find itself compared to even fouler things than the KKK before the battle is over.

One can only wonder what the Rovians make of all this. Are they in on the strategy? Were Cheney and Frist rolled out last week to praise "judicial independence" only as a way of providing semi-plausible deniability? Or have the feyadeen trully slipped out their control?

I don’t know. They may not know, either. But one thing is sure: The army can’t be kept at such a fever pitch indefinitely. If the Rovians really are going to go for the nuclear option, they need to do it soon. Otherwise, they may end up with the political equivalent of a nuclear meltdown on their hands.

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