Here come the chickens | AspenTimes.com

Here come the chickens

Andy Stone

I’ve been worried that President George W. Bush is going to injure himself. I’m concerned that he might dislocate an eyelid – wildly winking at his supporters on the religious right as he talks about his Supreme Court nominee.”Of course I haven’t asked Harriet Miers how she would rule on abortion. (Wink.) “That would be inappropriate.” (Wink. Wink!) “But I know what’s in her heart.” (Wink! WINK!!) “She’s a very religious …” (Wink!) “… Christian …” (WINK!) “… evangelical.” (WINK! Damnit! WINK!)The game is clear. Miers declares that no one knows how she’ll vote on abortion. Bush swears that he’s never discussed the topic with her – ever. Meanwhile, everyone who knows either of them is racing around telling any conservative Christians who’ll listen that she’s in the bag, abortion is doomed. No doubt about it.Let’s skip the fact that there’s obviously a lot of lying going on. That’s like saying it got a little damp down in New Orleans last month.Instead, let’s consider Bush’s often-stated promise that he would appoint a “strict constructionist” to the court – someone who would interpret the Constitution based absolutely and only on the actual words on parchment. Someone who would interpret those words exactly the way the original authors of the Constitution would interpret them.There will be no “activist justices.” There will be no one interpreting the Constitution based on personal philosophies or agendas. That kind of prejudice and personal bias will all be swept aside by Supreme Court justices with a fierce, burning commitment to the law, the Constitution … the document itself!And we know Harriet Miers is that kind of person because … she’s an evangelical Christian!And we can trust her to interpret the Constitution accordingly.But, if she … I mean, she’s … ah hell, did you hear it was a little damp down in New Orleans last month?Meanwhile, even some of the Christian conservatives aren’t buying it. They’re not bothered by the fact that the president’s arguments are contradictory. They’re upset because they don’t want a wink – they want an ironclad promise.One prominent conservative complained that Miers doesn’t have a clear, fixed “judicial philosophy” and that Supreme Court justices without a settled philosophy all “drift to the left.”Another way of saying that same thing is this: Justices with open minds drift to the left. They demand a justice who has already made up her mind on everything of importance and knows exactly how to vote, without bothering to listen to all those damn fool arguments.A strict constructionist, of course. No personal agenda – just a closed mind, thank you.What we’re seeing here is chickens coming home to roost.Chickens? What chickens?I’ll tell you what chickens.We all hear a lot about America being a bitterly divided country, split 50-50 between conservatives and liberals – with, these days, conservatives having an edge.But I don’t think that’s really true.I think America has, for quite some time, been roughly split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. But a lot of those Republicans – the longtime “mainstream” Republicans – were actually on what would now be called the liberal side. Maybe not really liberal, but certainly moderate.Then over the past few decades, either the religious right took over the Republican Party or the Republican Party sold its soul to the religious right. Whichever version you believe, the result was an unholy alliance that has now gone a long way toward destroying the bedrock values of personal liberty that were the founding principles of the United States and were at the heart of this nation’s greatness.By embracing those people who put their fundamentalist religion ahead of their patriotism (even as they wrap that package in the flag), the Republicans have forged a solid electoral majority – Republicans plus nut-ball fundamentalists equals 52 percent.They’re winning elections because they have sold out to the lunatics on the far fringes of the religious right.It’s not too late, but time’s running out – those chickens are settling in. And you know what you get covered with when chickens settle in to roost right overhead.Better wear a hat.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com