Sunday, May 08, 2005

I Heart the Constitution, Really, I Swear
The pastor at the center of the expulsion of Democrats from a North Carolina church tried to reel his words back into his mouth today, claiming it was all a misunderstanding, and that no one has ever been ousted from his church for his or her political beliefs. Of course, there are nine members who say otherwise--and based on the media reports since the story broke Thursday night, he did precisely what he's been accused of doing, and it's hard to imagine how it could have been misunderstood. Now we get to see how the aftermath plays out. The Hannitys and O'Reillys of the world will no doubt buy the pastor's version, and by this time tomorrow, the story will be yet another case of evil liberals trying to smear people of faith.

The pastor said he's gotten lots of phone calls, and took care to note that some of them were threatening. Of course they were. In any flashpoint case like this, there will always be a few nutjobs who cross the line--but instead of the reasonable assumption that those threatening violence are isolated nuts, the right-wing media will characterize them as having come directly from Harry Reid or Howard Dean. (They must think we coordinate our side as well as they coordinate theirs.)

On the left, we think the pastor's move is an unconstitutional abomination that's symptomatic of a deep sickness in the body politic--but nobody sensible is suggesting he be terminated with extreme prejudice. In fact, the only person who's suggested that physical intimidation might be a valuable political weapon in the current civil war is Ann Coulter (who suggested it in the context of arguing for the execution of John Walker Lindh). Coulter was involved in an incident the other night at the University of Texas, where a student asked her a sexually explicit question and got himself arrested for doing so.

The Coulter incident and wingnut reaction to it feeds a developing meme on the right--that liberals are so crazed with anger over, well, everything, that conservatives will soon be in general danger of bodily assault. (World O'Crap examined the idea on Friday.) My experience in psychology consists of two college courses, one of them 25 years ago, but I believe the phenomenon is known as "projection"--taking your own neuroses and assigning them to somebody else. One of the developing memes on the left since Time's Coulter love-fest is that granting her inflammatory rhetoric the stamp of mainstream approval exponentially increases the likelihood of right-on-left violence, as Rick Perlstein and Bob Somersby suggested a week or so back. The question is whether it will happen before there's some kind of left-on-right incident that "proves" the wingnuts right--a Reichstag fire, you might call it.

Spinning: You may have heard reports of the 8.2 earthquake that was centered near Hyde Park, New York, yesterday, caused by Franklin D. Roosevelt turning over in his grave as George W. Bush second-guessed him on the settlement of World War II. This is the second time in as many months that Bush has invoked FDR to sell his vision of the world. The first was the dishonest assertion that FDR intended for Social Security to be privatized eventually, and now, this critique of FDR's diplomatic skills. It's fitting, I suppose, given the long-term Republican project, underway since FDR's first term, of discrediting him and everything he stood for.

If Bush had gone to a few history classes at Yale, he might have learned that Roosevelt needed to gain Russian support for the American war effort against Japan--and remember, in February 1945, when the Yalta Conference was held, the atomic bomb was in development and by no means a certainty. At that time, it was widely believed that American forces would take hundreds of thousands casualties if an invasion of Japan were necessary. He also wanted to gain Stalin's support for creation of the United Nations, which he and Churchill viewed as vital for keeping whatever peace resulted from World War II. Precious few Allied policymakers would have wanted to give up either of those in exchange for the freedom of Poland. I am not quite sure what Bush would have done to improve on the Yalta settlement had he been there. Stomping around like a rhinoceros on crack, all the while yammering about democracy on the march, wouldn't have helped.

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