Sunday, January 2, 2005

So Much for Bipartisanship

From the Albuquerque Tribune:

So much for bipartisanship. So much for working together in the best interests of the entire country. So much for the 48 percent of Americans who voted for something other than four more years. So much for leadership or statesmanship.

In announcing he will resubmit some 20 judicial nominations stalled during his first term because they represented extreme judicial positions or philosophies, President Bush clearly is spoiling for a political street fight. He deserves nothing less. The judicial terrain is vital and must be defended.

Bush isn’t just spending some of that political “capital” that he thinks he amassed in the November election. And he certainly is not being presidential – as in being president of all the people, reaching out, respecting the opposition, governing from the center or revamping his so-called “compassionate conservatism.”

Rather, he is back in the saddle, reprising his role as the cowboy in the black hat, who thinks because he has power he can act like a bully and get away with it. Here’s hoping the town folk rise up in arms and run his unacceptable extreme judicial nominations out of the Senate.

Bush is ignoring the bitter reality that the political division in this country, represented vividly in red and blue in the recent election, is sharp, very deep, troubling and enduring. Democrats in the past four years compromised mightily, approving – as upcoming Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid pointed out – some 204 of Bush’s nominations, holding up “only 10 of the most extreme” nominees.

Rather than finding the common ground on which most Americans want this country to stand, Bush chose instead on Christmas weekend to declare a partisan, ideological war. But it is not just war against liberals or Democrats or progressives, or even the so-called “activist” judiciary. In renominating these judicial candidates (one of whom oversaw the Bush legal analysis that sanctioned torturing of prisoners of war), Bush is openly declaring war against:

Women and the most fundamental of human rights, the right of every person to control their own body.

The Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights and its legal, procedural protections and restraints on government power against individual citizens and in ensuring that every American has equal protection under law.

The constitutional requirement that U.S. officials abide by international treaties and laws to which the United States is a party, such as the Geneva Convention rules protecting prisoners of war.

Religion and its safeguards and governmental restrictions specified in no less than the First Amendment.

The environment and the long-standing rules protecting it, which are being grossly violated by the administration, which in turn is being challenged in the courts that Bush wants to refashion to conform to his economic, social and cultural values.

Bush chose to fire the first salvo in this war on this turf because he knows if he can prevail in the battle for the judiciary – including the big seats on the Supreme Court – he has a better chance of remaking America in his own image and ideology.

The Democratic Senate minority has no choice but to defend the country, the Constitution and all the people it represents. They should hold fast, using all procedural rules, including filibuster. If Bush insists on spending his political capital in this purely partisan, ideological fashion, Senate Democrats and wise Republicans must do all they can to ensure he goes politically bankrupt.

Because if Bush succeeds in this, America will be on its way to becoming a regressive, repressive, culturally monolithic society whose hallmark will be exclusion, not inclusion; conformity, not diversity; and, perhaps even theocracy over democracy. All Americans – regardless of gender, race, creed, sexual orientation or political ideology – must believe their judges will abide by and enforce the law, including the mother of all American law, the Constitution.