Friday, October 31, 2008

Ugliest Republican of the Day: Kit Bond

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Senator Kit Bond of Missouri was our Craziest Republican of the Day back in December 2007 for comparing waterboarding to swimming. (Seriously.)

Today he's our Ugliest Republican of the Day for saying this yesterday at a Palin rally in Rush Limbaugh's home town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri:

Just this past week, we saw what Barack Obama said about judges. He said, "I'm tired of these judges who want to follow what the Founding Fathers said and the Constitution. I want judges who have a heart, have an empathy for the teenage mom, the minority, the gay, the disabled. We want them to show empathy. We want them to show compassion."

That's right, Bond apparently doesn't want judges to have any empathy or compassion at all. Presumably he just wants them to throw the book, as hard as possible, at teenage mothers, minorities, gays, and the disabled. (And note how he refers to them with condescension, derision, and dismissal: "the minority, the gay..."

What is that other than meanness and ugliness and bigotry?

Of course, his attack on Obama is all quite ridiculous. Obama is hardly against the rule of law.

But, as George Constanza once said, "We're living in a society!"

In society, certain social values are important. If people don't have compassion for one another, what sort of a society it is? Similarly, if compassion isn't built into the law, and if judges can't show compassion towards those who need it most, then what sort of rule is there?

Bond implies that he wants society to be what the Founding Fathers wanted it to be. But the Founding Fathers were hardly incapable of showing compassion. And they certainly wanted to live in a compassionate society -- even if there are significant differences between then and now. (Times have changed, as the forward-looking and liberal-thinking Founding Fathers knew they would.) Indeed, I would argue that the Declaration of Independence is a genuinely compassionate document. In attacking Obama, Bond insulted the Founding Fathers and expressed an un-American understanding of the law.

What people like Bond want is not a society, and certainly not a community, but a loose confederation of selfish, atomistic individuals governed by an inhumane legal code, one that targets the disabled and disadvantaged -- one that is so stupid, because so stupidly enacted, because the enactors themselves were so stupid, as to be unable to distinguish case from case and context from context, one that is shallow and unjust.

In a civilized society, the law must be more than this. It must be a reflection of what Matthew Arnold, writing in a different context, called our best self. To those of us who prefer civilization to barbarism, our best self is deeply compassionate.

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    It is eternal winter there
    Within the proud warmonger´s soul,
    As death and killing take their toll,
    Humanity beyond repair.

    O, how he spouts some high ideals
    Of what is right and what is wrong,
    And echoing conviction strong
    His wife confirms how she too feels.

    Yes, let us call them, as we may
    Mr. & Mrs. Republican--
    Their son, of age to be a man
    Has got deferment, by the way.

    The commerce of the corporations
    Must not be stymied in its course,
    Thus he affirms; and in his purse
    Collects in coin considerations.

    One has to fill the gas tank up;
    His car is like a mini-tank
    And glides so smooth, you know his rank
    Was not achieved by beggar´s cup.


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