03 March 2007

Issues for Republicans - The Rule of Law and "Faggots"

"This kind of purge is legal but unprecedented." That is how Slate depicts the recent purge by the Bush Administration of (at least) eight perfectly competent US Attorneys recently. (There are only 93 US Attorneys in total, so we are talking close to ten percent of the staff here.) Well, this is part of the risk raised by the incompleteness of any set of rules. Since large expanses of our legal and political systems are covered by informal arrangements, it is perfectly legal for political operatives to exploit loopholes and breach "mere" convention. You will recall the Tom Delay-engineered redistricting scheme in Texas a few years back. It was conventional not to redistrict more than once a decade, but perfectly legal to do so. Once again we see that the Republicans seem more than willing to challenge and change the rules when it is to their advantage. When will the Democrats stop being "shocked! shocked!" and play hardball? They ought to be seeking Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's job. He is meant to be upholding the administration of justice, not subverting it in the name of partisan and/or political advantage, right?

Republicans at the Justice Department seem to be tone deaf on the issue. Here is a passage from a story in The New York Times today: "Justice Department officials, who would speak about the department’s decision making only anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly, now acknowledge that the dismissals were mishandled. They failed to anticipate how much attention the highly unusual group firing would draw, and the agency’s contradictory accounts about whether the dismissals were performance-related helped spur suspicions." So, the problem is not that Gonzales has fired people for no particular reason, but that he did so in a clumsy way and that someone noticed. Perhaps the Attorneys ought to have been fired serially over the course of several months? Same effect, less notoriety.

"Ann Coulter" © Tom Tomorrow

Speaking of Republicans, it turns out that they are in something of a pickle. Ann Coulter, who I think is a fool, has made a set of "jokes" in a speech to a right wing convention that, depending on one's views, are either anti-John Edwards or anti-gay. According to The Times several of the Republican Presidential candidates - McCain, Romney, Giuliani - are falling over themselves in an effort to distance themselves from Coulter's remarks. The various campaign spokesmen characterized Coulter's comments as "inappropriate" or "offensive" but it is unclear precisely what they might mean. I see at least two possibilities:

(1) The word "faggot" is disrespectful toward homosexuals whom we ought to accord equal dignity and respect (to paraphrase a spokesman for Romney). Well then, let's see whether the candidates are just engaging in cheap talk here. How about gay marriage fellas? How about gay clergy? Where do McCain, Giuliani and Romney on such matters? I am certain that voters in the Republican "base" are eager to find out.

(2) Name calling should not be allowed in politics. Calling John Edwards a "faggot" is disrespectful toward him. No way John is gay! The tacit premise here, of course, is that there is something wrong with being "a faggot." In that sense Romney, Giuliani and McCain really are agreeing with Coulter.

I welcome clarification.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

Don't know about clarification, but Edwards at least goes through the motions of stating his concern for the plight of the disadvantaged, the working poor, the environment, etc. These are non he-man issues for chicken hawk Republicans, and thus, Edwards is a "faggot."

03 March, 2007 22:16  
Blogger Stan B. said...

Hell, if you care about anything but money and power, in Republican eyes, it's a given you gotta be some kinda "faggot."

03 March, 2007 22:55  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks for the back up Stan!

03 March, 2007 23:07  
Blogger Stan B. said...

just the facts...

04 March, 2007 12:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be more accurate to say "responded when inundated by eager media-types" rather than "falling over each other" in response to Coulter's comments.

Regarding your second interpretation: "Faggot" is an inherently pejorative term. To say that it was "inappropriate" or "offensive" would be reasonable responses whether or not Edwards was in fact gay, and would not necessarily imply any judgment about being gay.

05 March, 2007 17:08  

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