Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bill Frist's Not-So-Secret Agenda

Tonite is the The Bill Frist Show. The Senate Majority Leader takes center stage, albeit through a 4-minute videoptaped speech, at the Family Research Counsel's "Justice Sunday" event at a Louisville, KY church. The event, which will be broadcast nationally, is being promoted through fliers with claims that the filibuster is being "used against people of faith." In short, this highly inflammatory rhetoric suggests that if Senate Democrats block a Bush judicial nomination by using the 200-year-old filibuster tactic, then (a) they are attacking the nominee's faith; and (b) they themselves are not people of faith. These accusations, which many in the GOP leadership have been relentless in dispensing, are irresponsible and reprehensible. Tonite's event is a religious sham, and designed to appeal only to the most narrow-minded Christian conservative wing of the Republican party. So why then is Frist heading the bill? It's simple: 2008. Frist has been shamelessly pandering to this group for some time now, most recently in the Terri Schiavo case. He liked what they did for Bush in both 2000 and '04, and he wants them in his court when it's vote time. But he better be careful. This strategy could backfire big time. Most Americans are increasingly fed up with the Religious Right; many Senate and house GOPers are 'losing faith' as well; and not all people of faith share the extremist views of this radical group. For example, there's C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance and the pastor of a Louisiana church. Gaddy is concerned about "the transition from religion as a source of values and wisdom, to religion as a strategy for passing legislation or winning an election." Gaddy believes Frist may have already miscalculated. "I don't judge people's motives," he said. "If Sen. Frist sees this as an essential step in launching a presidential campaign, he's more involved in a stumble than a step." Let's hope he's right. Andy

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