Thursday, April 14, 2005

Frist Panders to Religious Right on Nuclear Option

The Republicans are continuing with the formula they used in the 2004 elections--pandering to the religious right to try to squeak by with a narrow majority. What has worked in the short run will likely doom the Republicans long term as the center continues to move towards the Democrats. The New York Times reports on how Frist is attempting to use religion to push his political agenda.

Or maybe things are not as they appear. Many believe Frist is a vote or two short on the Nuclear Option. It isn't even certain that a majority is sufficient to bring about such a major rules change in the Senate. With Democrats threatening to block all other legislation if Frist goes through with the nuclear option, some in the Corporate Welfare branch of the GOP are hoping that Frist fails, knowing they have a lot to lose in a paralyzed Senate.

Perhaps Frist is going before the religious right at this time anticipating a failure on the nuclear option. He could then tell them he did everything he could to change the rules to facilitate the appointment of more conservative judges, and then return to business as usual as the Congress continues to redistribute the nation's wealth to the ultra-wealthy. Stringing along the religious right while throwing them an occasional bone wouldn't be a new strategy for the Republicans, considering that it was their usual policy pre-Bush.

Frist Set to Join Religious Effort on Judicial Issue


WASHINGTON, April 14 - As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

Organizers say they hope to reach more than a million people by distributing the telecast to churches around the country, over the Internet and over Christian television and radio networks and stations.

Dr. Frist's spokesman said the senator's speech in the telecast would reflect his previous remarks on judicial appointments. In the past he has consistently balanced a determination "not to yield" on the president's nominees with appeals to the Democrats for compromise. He has distanced himself from the statements of others like the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, who have attacked the courts, saying they are too liberal, "run amok" or are hostile to Christianity.

The telecast, however, will put Dr. Frist in a very different context. Asked about Dr. Frist's participation in an event describing the filibuster "as against people of faith," his spokesman, Bob Stevenson, did not answer the question directly.



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