What should we make of this quote by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn yesterday on the floor of the Senate?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."
His comments, which seem to be a strained attempt to justify violence against judges, have provoked outrage across the blogoshpere:
* From Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall:
Sen. Cornyn (R) Texas suggested that a slow build-up of outrage against activist judges may be the root cause of the recent rash of murders and assaults against members of the judiciary around the country....
Let alone the fact that the statement is ridiculous on its face since violence against judges in this country is almost exclusively the work of disgruntled defendents or homicidal maniacs who manage to wrestle a gun away from a bailiff, what Cornyn is trying to suggest here seems genuinely outrageous.
* John Aravosis at AMERICAblog says “Senator John Cornyn should resign immediately.”
We now have Republican Senators making excuses for terrorists. Explaining why terrorism is understandable. Why terrorists have legitimate concerns. Justifying why the victims of terrorism are really to blame for these heinous crimes. Wonder what Senator Cornyn thinks of rape victims?
This is utterly outrageous. Outrageous. The GOP is now embracing domestic terrorists who are trying to undermine our democracy. And they're doing it so they can take down the judges who "killed" Terri Schiavo, and instead impose some Pat Robertson-like theocracy on our country. This is absolutely utterly beyond contempt.
* Byron LaMasters at Burnt Orange Report says
It would seem as if John Cornyn is attempting to use the recent violence and threats of violence against our judiciary for political gain. That is utterly shameless.
* Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff says
You are a disgrace, John Cornyn. I cannot express my contempt strongly enough.
* And Matthew Yglesias has a thoughtful post about how supposedly moderate politicians will use the actions of extremists to their advantage.
Does Senator Cornyn want more people to go about murdering judges? One doubts it. But it seems that he's happy to try and use such incidents to advance his own agenda.
I am particularly perplexed because until now I have held Sen. Cornyn in rather high esteem, at least for a Republican. When he was first elected I consoled myself with the thought that he was at least an improvement over the more extreme right-winger Phil Gramm. But I’m not so sure that Gramm would have ever gotten himself into a situation like this - he was nothing if not media savvy.
I have interviewed Cornyn on a number of occasions back when he was running for attorney general and he always struck me as a fairly level-headed, main-stream conservative Republican. So what is with this chilling attack on our judiciary, especially from a former member of the judiciary who served on the Texas Supreme Court?
Cornyn has recently introduced legislation that would restrict the courts from using foreign decisions as precedence in decididing cases. He also wrote an article in the National Review on that same subject. This was all seemingly sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the death penalty for juveniles.
But it also seems to be part of a larger more concerted effort by the GOP to take on the judiciary and sway public opinion in a bid to allow President Bush to get 100 percent of his judicial nominees past Senate Democrats rather than just the 98 percent he has achieved so far.
So my take is that Cornyn has gotten a little carried away with his new task of being the point man on the Republican leadership’s campaign to attack the credibility of the federal judiciary. His statement yesterday revealed a lack of common sense and judgement that is rather shocking for someone with his background and history. I would hope that the black eye Cornyn has received for this statement will serve as a lesson and put him on a more moderate course once again. But if he would rather follow the path of extremist radicals like Tom DeLay then he is going to find himself going over the same cliff that they are heading towards.
OK, I think I understand better what is going on here...
Cornyn is a Republican tool, a team-player and he is simply following the playbook given to him by the Republican leadership. And the game afoot is coming up with a new boogey man for the mid-term elections in 2006.
The Republicans need a boogey man to run against that will distract their sheep-like followers from focusing on how they have run the economy into the ground, piled up sky-high deficits and left us with a foreign policy mess that will take generations to deal with.
In the past they were able to target a Democratic-controlled House or Senate whom they could blame for high taxes or for being soft-on-communism. For the 2002 mid-term elections they had the spectre of Saddam Hussein and his arsenal of WMDs with which to scare voters with.
Today they are casting about desperately for a new boogeyman to run against and they think they have finally found one (thanks to Terri Schiavo) in the federal and state judiciary.
The only problem, however, is that Tom DeLay and his minions keep coming across as being much scarier than any of these judges they are attempting to vilify. Can Sen. Cornyn’s shrill attacks change this? That is the real question.