Bill Frist did his best rendition of what, by today’s GOP standards, is considered moderation. In distancing himself from Tom DeLay, he boldy came out in favor of not kicking the shit out of judges:
When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so. But we must also be clear that the balance of power among all three branches requires respect — not retaliation. I won’t go along with that.
Isn’t that decent of him?
Let’s get to the more basic question: Why judges?
It actually makes perfect sense.
Let’s review the way the GOP has masterfully managed their ascension over the past three decades or so. The core idea was that they needed to deliver a honed message directly to the American people. They began by massively funding think tanks that were tasked with repackaging the Party. Getting that new message out was critical: Direct mail helped, talk radio helped a lot, the internet has been quite useful.
The next step was to remove obstacles. If you are trying to get your message to the masses and you don’t want that message to be in any way challenged, you need to begin to discredit those who could it.
Who can do that? Well, journalists tend to be pretty skeptical. So you need to begin an intense and ongoing campaign to position them as liberal. Then there are those nasty academics who question the reality of your statements about the economy and foreign affairs. How can you convince people what’s good for them if really smart people keep introducing data that suggests the opposite? So you need to discredit academics as the liberal and intellectual elite.
But wait. How do you discredit people for being intellectually elite when all of you are rich and went to Ivy League schools? That’s an easy one. Just discredit those smart enough to bring that up before they do. Who will believe them?
Messaging is everything. And that’s why the GOP has successfully discredited the media as being liberal in the age of Fox and discredited the elite while electing a Yale graduate, son of a president.
When you look at things this way, it becomes pretty obvious why judges are the next targets. They are the next group of pretty powerful and pretty smart folks who can stand in the way of your definition of the Constitution and values. In a country where our jails are filled with poor black people, you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty amazing to see rich, white dudes railing against the judiciary.
How bad are judges? They are so terrible that the head of the Senate must give a speech in which he makes it clear that “retaliation” against them – while tempting – would not be becoming for a man who seeks the Oval Office.
Judges: In progress