Saturday, October 29, 2005

Schadenfreude: Delay, Libby, Rove and Republicans Eating Their Young – or – Taking Lessons From Ann Coulter

I understand the desire to see those smug, self-righteous SOB’s get their comeuppance. Flaunting the laws, lying to the public, abandoning all but the sheerest pretense of interest in good governance – these guys have it coming.

Nevertheless, my discomfiture with the celebratory atmosphere among my fellow liberals continued to grow as callers to Air America wished the hosts a Merry Fitzmas in advance of the expected (hoped for) indictments of Libby and Rove by Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Indictments are not a “gift”. I’d say to myself.

And then along comes Ann Coulter, attempting to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Harriet Miers fiasco.

Since Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court, Democratic senators like Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin — i.e., all the people who had absolutely nothing to do with Miers' withdrawal — have been blanketing the airwaves demanding that Bush now accede to their demands. So it's good to see Democrats are still working on getting in touch with reality.

The Democrats didn't utter a note of disagreement with the Miers nomination. But now they say her withdrawal is their victory, which Bush must be forced to acknowledge by nominating a candidate to their liking.

Her point is that the defeat of Miers’ nomination was a conservative political victory. Therefore, conservatives have the right to dictate who the next nominee will be. To the victor go the spoils. To the hunter goes the kill.

The fact that Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin were elected to represent some of the most populous states in America doesn’t even factor in here. They weren’t part of the coup and therefore have forfeited the right to ask that the interests of the people they represent be heard. Stupid Liberals!

Now, truth be told, for most self-identified conservatives, Coulter is a marginal figure. Her continued staying power is partly due to what an easy target she presents to liberals. It’s not like you have to work too hard to ridicule statements like - “I think that is not going to inure to the Democrats' benefit, to be having this obviously political prosecution of a political enemy. No, that just shows them to be the fascists that they are.” – in response to the Delay indictment. (Note to Coulter: Inure - To make accustomed or used to something painful, difficult, or inconvenient; to harden; to habituate. Let’s stop trying to pretend to be more educated than we are, shall we? Note to Liberals: See? It’s just that easy.)

However, I had previously argued that “reading Coulter is something like a direct line to the conservative Id.” Here, as elsewhere, Coulter lays bare and unvarnished the element of the Republican Party that holds winning to be the only thing that matters. These are the people who have wrested control of the Republican Party from those who regard conservatism as an ideology, rather than a brand name. Delay, Rove and Libby are in trouble precisely because they did what they felt they had to win without regard to what is right or even legal. They got arrogant and then sloppy and then caught.

Thus the schadenfreude.

And yet my discomfiture stems from the very fact the barely restrained glee on the part of some liberals looks uncomfortably similar to the mindset of Coulter and the vein of Machiavellianism on the right she channels. In trying to remind her readers what’s truly important (it doesn’t matter if the charges against Delay are true, only to whom the political advantage will “inure”), she inadvertently succeeded.

Forget the politics of the matter. Delay was charged with money laundering in a specific matter involving Texas campaign finance laws, but his real crime was transforming Congress itself into a money laundering machine, nakedly selling influence and policy decisions to the highest bidder.

Forget the polls. Liddy was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury, but his real crime was doing that in the service of defrauding the American public into supporting an illegal and immoral war.

It’s not that I don’t want to see justice done. It’s just that the lasting damage to lives of real people of the Iraq war and Republican agenda will be with us long after whatever small measure of justice we manage to achieve is accomplished.

I’m guess I’m having trouble taking any joy in that.

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