Sunday, August 14, 2005

Typical great column from Jonathan Chait (LA Times). An excerpt:
Despite all this, conservative groups such as James Dobson's Focus on the Family continue to staunchly back Roberts. It's hard to convey just how weird that is, given the radicalism of Dobson's views on social issues in general and gay rights in particular.

How far out is Dobson? He disseminated a guide in one of his 2002 newsletters on how a father can prevent his son from turning gay. The advice included roughhousing with him, teaching him to throw and catch, showing him how "to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard" (No, I didn't understand that one either), capped off with this: "He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger."

The point here is that Dobson is not merely conservative, he's certifiable. And, needless to say, he's not a big fan of Romer vs. Evans. Yet now Dobson is working to put one of the lawyers who gave his time to the gay-rights cause — for free! — on the Supreme Court.

To be sure, Roberts is probably a bit to the right of O'Connor. But Bush could easily have appointed a justice who's more than a bit to the right of O'Connor. Wing nuts such as William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown had already won majority support for lower positions, and Bush could have gotten them on the high court with minimal effort. But Bush reserves his political capital for unpopular right-wing economic policies. He almost never expends it on social issues. Why should he, when pliant social conservatives will flock to the polls for the GOP regardless?

A Washington Post reporter once called religious conservatives "disproportionately poor, uneducated, and easy to command," a line for which he has since apologized and which has been cited endlessly as an example of the media's anti-religious bias.

I'm not sure about poor and uneducated, but the "easy to command" part seems pretty dead on.
For sure, Dobson is, as Chait describes, "certifiable." Take your son into the shower, show him your penis, and presto magico, you won't have a gay son -- are you kidding me? The sad thing is I've witnessed fathers who appear to get a bit too rough with their young sons, wanting to instill fratguy-ish behaviorisms by playing extra macho and shunning any interest shown in kitchen utensils, dancing, etc.

But Dobson's rubber-stamping of Roberts is just another instance of partisan/political interests trumping no-compromise convictions and moral stands. Like Falwell, Dobson is first and foremost a GOP tool -- far more so than a true believer in anything he espouses.

My favorite example of this truism: in PA last year, Santorum and Bush endorsing pro-choice Specter over pro-life Toomey. But as Chait correctly describes, many in the GOP's supposed big tent are "easy to command," i.e. they don't think or question but rather simply follow. What a luxury for an incompetent emperor like King George.

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