Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 7, 2006

A HOUSE DIVIDED....The three big rally-the-base votes in the Senate -- ban on gay marriage, ban on flag "desecration," and permanent repeal of the estate tax -- are all expected to lose, but more importantly, they're expected to put Democrats on the defensive while uniting Republicans and their base.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the culture war. Democrats don't seem at all intimidated, and Republicans appear increasingly divided amongst themselves.

On the anti-gay amendment, which seven Republicans voted against today, many in the party wanted proponents of the measure to just go away.

"I know in many meetings of our colleagues when the issue of marriage comes up, heads drop," Mr. Santorum said in a floor speech. "It is just an issue that people just feel uncomfortable talking about. It's something that maybe in some respects they feel like, why do we even have to? Why is this even an issue?" [...]

One Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, said it was a mistake for the president and Senate leaders to focus attention on a marriage ban now, in what could look like a panicked reaction to shrinking public support. "What the president needs to do is look like a leader, not be somebody who looks like a politician who is overreacting to polls," Mr. Rollins said. "If anything, he is reminding people of what they don't like about the Republican Party."

The GOP is split on the estate tax, too.

Senate Republicans, pushing once again to abolish the estate tax on inherited wealth, are split about whether to push for a full repeal that would probably fail, or seek a more cautious compromise with Democrats that could pass. [...]

In what is either a shrewd game of chicken or an effort to inflame the passions of crucial Republican constituencies, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, has made little effort to strike a compromise with conservative Democrats that would greatly reduce but not fully abolish the tax..... The strategy has divided Republicans.

For that matter, some top Senate Republicans are even balking on the party's flag scheme.

Like most Democrats, two Republican senators, Robert F. Bennett of Utah and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have consistently opposed the measure.

"I don't want to amend the Constitution to solve a nonproblem," Mr. Bennett said. "People are not burning the flag. The only time they start is when this amendment gets offered."

Indeed, opponents of the measure routinely help highlight the argument against a flag "desecration" amendment by quoting one fairly high-profile Republican:

"The First Amendment exists to ensure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will still be flying proudly long after they have slunk away." -- Colin Powell, May 1999

These three measures are supposed to be the kinds of conservative, nonsensical ideas that keep the GOP together. Instead, the initiatives are a) failing; b) getting shrugged off by Democrats; and c) highlighting fissures within the Republican Party. Great job, GOP.

Steve Benen 4:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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Comments

Are you sure that Santorum was referring to his REPUBLICAN colleagues? Seven RINOs don't concern me one bit.

Posted by: Don P. on June 7, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think some on the right might be finally coming around to understand that the freedoms it stands for are more important than the flag itself? What good is freedom of speech if you start carving out exceptions for the symbols of our freedoms?

Ironically, the flag-burning amendment is virtually guaranteed to result in more flags being burned. As it stands now, you burn a flag, you might get your picture in the news, nobody much cares, you go back to where you came from and try to come up with another attention-getter. But make it unconstitutional, and watch what happens.

Posted by: Greg VA on June 7, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Five posts on the FMA in two days. And now flag burning. I bet you're glad you haven't fallen for the GOP's ploy of distracting attention from issues on which it's vulnerable and focusing on cultural issues that help rally its base.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party is debating policies, even though there's an election coming up.

The Democrat Party is simply lockstep, following the will of Kos and George Soros. Is there any need to debate changing the definition of marriage? No. Should our national symbol be given protection? Nah. Should the US government be in the business of graverobbing? Absolutely!

The choice is clear. GOP in 2008, if you care about debate instead of talking points.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 7, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

How'bout we all refuse to get caught up in the BS and stay committed to the actual source. Follow the money! The rest is, at most, diversion.

Posted by: the zombie bandit on June 7, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Man, Bad Republicant news means its Troll Time!

Don Pee
G-O-Pee
American Hawk Pee
Man, they're just raining their comments down!

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 7, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is all a brilliant political strategy by the greatest political genius of all time, George W. Bush, assisted by the second-greatest political genius of all time, Karl Rove.

These maneuvers will inevitably lead to a landslide victory for Democrats, who will take majority control of both houses of Congress in November. Once the Democrats are in power in the Congress, all true Americans will see them for the anti-American red commie America-hating atheistic America-hating socialists that they really are, and two years later will reject their anti-American terrorist-loving red Commie America-hating gay agenda and elect a Republican president and Republican Congress in a landslide.

Pure genius!

Posted by: rdw on June 7, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

GOP '08: not even solid majorities can stop us from failing to govern!

GOP '08: Sweet, sweet demagoguery!

GOP '08: You ain't seen nothin yet! Let's keep it that way!

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Kos and George Soros are both married (to women). So if ours were a gay agenda, it would be pretty dumb to be behind them in lockstep.

Posted by: mmy on June 7, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

My middle name is "Urine."

Posted by: Pale Rider on June 7, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Soros is divorced. But he was married twice. To women. So all those gay guys behind him in lockstep are in trouble.

Posted by: mmy on June 7, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Democratic Senator Byrd voted for the protection of Marriage Amendment.

The dems are seriously divided on this issue.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

GOP '08: Keeping America safe for theocracy!

GOP '08: It's the appearance that counts!

GOP '08: We hate governing, and it shows!

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat Party 08: You don't know what we stand for - and neither do we!

Democrat Party 08: We didn't really support going to war in Iraq. You're just imagining it.

Democrat Party 08: Because we brought you DOMA, Welfare Reform, and the biggest increase ever in the gap between rich and poor.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party is debating policies, even though there's an election coming up.

This guy gets dumber every day.

Posted by: Mike S on June 7, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: We supply the fear, you supply the rage!

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat Party 08: Please don't hurt us!

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 7, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

They're not very efficient-- why not combine the two and go for a fag burning amendment?

Posted by: zoe kentucky on June 7, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Democratic Senator Byrd voted for the protection of Marriage Amendment.

Is that the best you can point to? Have you ever read a history of the US Civil War and read the clueless speeches of the Confederate Senators? Guess what. A century from now historians will be quoting this week's Republican speeches as proof how American democracy had been derailed. Your grandchildren will marvel at how people were led by such self-serving boobs.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 7, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Zoe definitely nailed it.

Three cheers for Zoe!

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 7, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the trouble with the Senate GOP can be traced in large part to the fact that their power rests on pleasing the likes of Spector, Chaffe, the two chicks from Maine and few other RINOs. So while the Reps are technically in the majority, there is not an ideological majority.

Which is why if the GOP has to lose a House of Congress this year, I hope its the Senate and not the House. It might remind these RINOs that without the conversative base, they would be the ranking member instead of Chairmen of their committees.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 7, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the sake of actually having a debate, could one of the right-wing posters please explain why protecting a symbol of national freedom from those who want to burn it is more important than protecting the reality of free expression by not jailing dissenters?

Posted by: glenn on June 7, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat Party 08: Because we brought you DOMA, Welfare Reform, and the biggest increase ever in the gap between rich and poor.

So Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan were all Democrats? Put down the bong, kid.

Posted by: Otto Man on June 7, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: We supply the fear, you supply the rage!

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 4:57 PM

Dammit cleek, now I gotta get that air in a can stuff and remove out all the sandwich bits I just sprayed across the keyboard.

Posted by: cyntax on June 7, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

seek a more cautious compromise with Democrats that could pass

Kerry cannot wait to help them out and give the Republicans whatever they want. Oh yeah, he wants to send more troops to Haditha.

Posted by: Hostile on June 7, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

ever see the Simpsons where they find a crayon up Homer's nose? they take it out and he turns into a genius. then he realizes he liked himself better the old way and decides to put the crayon back. so, Moe taps the crayon in a little at a time and Homer gets progressively dumber.

Moe: (shoving crayon up nose deeper and deeper) All right, tell me when I hit the sweet spot.
Homer: Deeper, you pusillanimous pilsner-pusher.
Moe: All right, all right.
Homer: DEFENSE! Grunt! Grunt! DEFENSE! Grunt! Grunt!
Moe: That's pretty dumb... but... uh...
Homer: Extended warranty? How can I lose?
Moe: Perfect.

remember that one? yeah, well the people who give a fuck about the "flag burning amendment" didn't stop at one crayon; they used the whole fucking box.

Posted by: cleek on June 7, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh say can you see that flag burn...

Posted by: Cruel troll killer on June 7, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

i want a constitutional amendment which establishes penalties for those who seek to restrict or limit the rights of any american citizens who have not been convicted of a crime or judged mentally deficient. why won't the GOP vote to safeguard the rights of american citizens?

Posted by: dopey-o on June 7, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Troglodyte wrote:
Is that the best you can point to? Have you ever read a history of the US Civil War and read the clueless speeches of the Confederate Senators?

You're not getting it. It's called sarcasm. To say that Dem Sen. Byrd voting for the protection of Marriage Amendment constitutes a division in the Democratic party is silly. It's as silly as dedicating an entire blog article on the vote of 8 senators constituting division in the Republican party. Do you get it now?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 7, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

They're not very efficient-- why not combine the two and go for a fag burning amendment?

That was really funny.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 7, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

The hell with a flag-burning ammendment, what the Congress should get behind is an ammendment that prevents Jessica Simpson from ever attempting to sing the national anthem. Last year's Independence Day celebration from D.C. made that frighteningly clear.

Posted by: horatio on June 7, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

zoe! Brilliant!

Posted by: shortstop on June 7, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

GOP '08: My cat's breath smells like cat food.
GOP '08: That's my sandbox. I'm not allowed to go in the deep end.
GOP '08: Me fail English? That's unpossible.
GOP '08: Uh... so... do you like... stuff?
GOP '08: I glued my head to my shoulder, now i have two owies.
GOP '08: The doctor said I wouldn't have so many nose bleeds if I kept my finger outta there.
GOP '08: And, when the doctor said I didn't have worms any more, that was the happiest day of my life.

Posted by: Mitch Cumstein on June 7, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: "Wow, Democratic Senator Byrd voted for the protection of Marriage Amendment."

Um, no, he didn't. He opposes the amendment. Free clue: the vote today wasn't actually on the amendment under discussion.

Posted by: PaulB on June 7, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

So Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan were all Democrats? Put down the bong, kid.

No, Bill Clinton was the Democratic President. Pick up a history book, grandpa.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the sake of actually having a debate, could one of the right-wing posters please explain why protecting a symbol of national freedom from those who want to burn it is more important than protecting the reality of free expression by not jailing dissenters?

Perhaps you should ask prospective Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She supports a federal law banning fag burning. I mean flag burning.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: Perhaps you should ask prospective Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She supports a federal law banning fag burning. I mean flag burning.

Okay, I just sent Sen. Clinton an e-mail asking her why she's such a goddamned pandering phony. Now will you shut the fuck up, Don? Man, there's an Asperger's epidemic around here lately.

Posted by: shortstop on June 7, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
Perhaps you should ask prospective Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"Some Democrat somewhere agrees with the position" is not an argument for it; the request was for one of the right-wingers here to explain their support for it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 7, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Zoe-

They're not very efficient-- why not combine the two and go for a fag burning amendment?

Much like the left...

-"Raise taxes on the top 2%- to pay for the war!"
-"Raise taxes on the top 2%- to pay for the deficit!"
-"Raise taxes on the top 2%- to pay for 'universal health care'!"
-"Raise taxes on the top 2%- to pay to reform Socialist InSecurity!"
-"We know MediScare is fucked- so, we don't promise anything!"


Why not just take the top 2%, shoot them, then take all their money at one time?-- It would be more efficient...

Posted by: fletch on June 7, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Solutions to make poseur-libertarians' heads explode:

Gay marriage ban:
Get the state out of the marriage business altogether. No homosexual OR heterosexual marriage. Why should people who pair up get a tax break or other privileges? If this privilege is given to hetero couples, it should be given to homo couples, or poly couples as well.

Flag Burning:
We should, ever 4th of July, as a nation, ALL burn an American flag, in celebration of the fact that we have the RIGHT to do so.

Estate Tax:
Ban the estate tax. When someone inherits money, tax it as regular income. It's money coming in, so it can be treated as income, with the standard degree of progressivity (progressive income taxation is a separate debate, for which I will not take a Libertarian side - unless we can find a way to accurately bill individual citizens for their proportionate use of public infrastructure and services, which would inevitably FUCK the rich worse than anything they've ever known).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 7, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

The panic of the Republican party is palpable. Its like the eviction notice has been nailed to the door, and GOP is stripping the copper pipes from the house before the cops show up.

Posted by: Jon Karak on June 7, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

The choice is clear. GOP in 2008, if you care about debate instead of talking points.

The choice is clear. Democrats in 2006 (and '08), if you care about policy rather than poseurs. (This, of course, assumes that Hillary Clinton is not the '08 nominee.)

Posted by: Vincent on June 7, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Just be glad that there isn't a brain-dead woman somewhere that we can force to stay alive for ever." ....the republicans

Posted by: Where's osama on June 7, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see - the GOP has a Speaker of the House who is an obese, brain-dead wrestling coach, a Senate majority leader who is so boring and stiff he makes Lurch look animated and a bisexual, alcoholic, coke-sniffin' retard as President (we won't even bring up Dickless Cheney) - yeah, I can see why they want to change the subject.

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on June 7, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

See, wasnt so bad was it. Wasnt such a huge distraction or waste of time from more pressing concerns. The Senate did its job and voted. Debate is a healthy thing. Judges debate and vote on things also, like the ones in Massachusetts. They decide things on the same principle also, majority rules. :)

Posted by: Fitz on June 7, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me or is it crazy to cut taxes when there's no plan to cut the deficit. Surely Democrats shouldn't compromise on the Estate Tax issue when it's clearly just pandering or a Repub political pay-off.

Posted by: Renwick on June 7, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Osama keeps lobbing in this proposal to tax inheritances as income, whcih would be raise quite a bit of money as that would be a massive increase as compared to the current law.

One thing the professionals in this area always come up with would be to keep some multi-million dollar exempt amount, the annual gift tax exclusion, and the other current exculsions, and just tax whatever else at whatever the top income tax bracket is at the time.

When the R's are in power it would go down, when the D's raise taxes to clean up the mess it would go up. And we could skip the ridiculous arguments.

The word on the estate planning street is that there are votes for a 5 million per person exemption and a 15% rate. The 5M is a gift to all of us in CA and NY, they should have done it a couple of years ago. The 15% rate is a bit of a joke, its one "60 minutes story" away from going back up to 50%.

Posted by: hank on June 7, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Democratic Senator Byrd voted for the protection of Marriage Amendment.

No, he voted to bring it to the floor. Where it would lose his vote and the measure would fail to get the supermajority required. He opposes the amendment.

The reason the estate tax wasn't repealed permanently in 2001 was that the Senate pay-go rule was in effect (that was when those Democrats controlled the body). A revenue-reducing or expenditure-fattening law lasting over ten years had to be mated with a countermeasure that would restore balance to the budget. It wasn't much of a restriction, but it was infinitely more than the ones the Republicans have kept in place. Fortunately, we can depend on those tight-fisted GOP types to explain, today, what cuts in spending an estate tax repeal would mean, or what other taxes they'd raise to make up the difference. I mean, they could've done that in 2001, but apparently didn't have the balls then. Evidently, putting a Republican in charge of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is guaranteed overtime for the money-printing crew, and further indebtedness for the rest of us.

Posted by: Brian C.B. on June 7, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Which is more important to the wingnuts - the Constitution or the Flag? The answer is obvious.

Posted by: Red on June 7, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the Romans wasted time and energy arguing about such non-issues while their empire crumbled.

Posted by: Speed on June 7, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly is wrong with a political party in power debating legislation that is important to its base?
Its hardly hollow in as much as it puts politicians on record as being for or against an ultimate solution.
Its already forced politicians like McCain and many Democrats to promise to vote for it only if the courts force the issue. This is of a real and discernable benefit.

I think the more important an d interesting question is why the press & pundits use every opportunity to belittle an amendment that are so overwhelmingly popular at the State level?
This is no Joke and the academic liberals know it.
They think this amendment is the only thing that can really stop nationalized SSM.
They have bitten off more than they can chew, so need as much time as they can to chew on it.
The people wont swallow though.

Posted by: Fitz on June 7, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Speed

Do you know anything about ancient Rome?

Posted by: Fitz on June 7, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz! Look over there! It's two men registering at Crate and Barrel! Booga-booga!

Posted by: Pat on June 7, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ya Pat

What politician supports SSM?

Who signed DOMA?

Whats happening in the states?

Or Norway?


Booga-Booga

Posted by: Fitz on June 7, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, there, Fitz. I'd like to talk with you, but in that the gay marriage amendment has failed, I'm pretty distracted. In truth, after today's events I'm deeply worried about my own heterosexual marriage. What does my wife's and my relationship mean if gays can also be committed to each other!!!!???

Posted by: Pat on June 7, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the Romans wasted time and energy arguing about such non-issues while their empire crumbled. Speed

Actually the Byzantines wasted huge amounts of energy and money ripping themselves apart over the Iconclasm controversy (should we make pictures of Christ? Yes! No!) they neglected the defence of their borders, the state of Constantinople's walls and the economic base of both their armed forces and society.

Why do you ask?

Posted by: floopmeister on June 7, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

floopmeister, actually the period of Iconoclasm was also a period of military consolidation and defense of the borders of the Byzantine Empire. The empire shored up its vulnerabilities from the 8th century through the middle of the 9th under both iconoclast and iconodule emperors. Part of this was because the primary iconoclast emperor, Constantine V was incredibly militarily successful, and succeeding emperors on either side of the controversy had to "prove their mettle" by showing themselves to be at least as successful as he was. After that controversy ended, the empire began to expand until reaching its medieval peak by the middle of the 11 century, at while time there began to be some internal rot, mostly for reasons due to corruption and complacency.

Where on earth are you getting your facts from?

Posted by: Constantine on June 7, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Fits, love the way you use the words "academic liberals" to substitute for the words "logic and reason." Way to go! You learned your smears well in Republican college it seems.
And while there is nothing wrong with a party, in power or out, debating issues, you do seem to be deliberately ignoring the timing of the debate. There are simply too many other issues of far greater importance to see the choice of timing as anything other than crassly political.
Further, any reasonable libertarian (and I do remember when libertarians found a home in the Republican party, though it seems an eternity ago) would resent federal intrusion into private arrangements, and any true conservative would agree that this matter should be left to the States, and the people of the States (or am I wrong that for decades this was the Republican response to Roe?) So not only is the timing of the debate crassly political, but it's not even in aid of conservative principles, but rather in aid of the principles of Christian authoritarianism. (And the same can be said for the flag burning amendment; estate tax repeal, less so, I guess).
Finally, I bow to the greatest historian ever to write in the English language, Edward Gibbon, who confidently concluded that the demise of the Roman Empire (not a republic at the point it "fell", Speed) was due to the conversion of the mass of the population to Christianity, and its adoption as the (exclusive) Roman state religion. So I confidently predict that, if the American Republic ever falls, it will not be due to decadence (of the gays, the left, or whatever threat to Western Civilization the Right demonizes), but due to the fact that we Christianized the law, destroyed the First Amendment, and created a society where Faith is opposed to and valued over Reason.

Posted by: Reginald Perrin on June 7, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, I bow to the greatest historian ever to write in the English language, Edward Gibbon

Correction-- Edward Gibbon was the greatest writer of the English language to be a historian. Totally different from what you're claiming he was.

Posted by: Constantine on June 7, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

"shortstop" says,

Okay, I just sent Sen. Clinton an e-mail asking her why she's such a goddamned pandering phony.

Good for you, Madge.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Some Democrat somewhere agrees with the position" is not an argument for it; the request was for one of the right-wingers here to explain their support for it.

And I'm responding that the requestor should ask Democratic senator and potential future Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton why she supports fag burning. I mean, a law against flag burning.

It's notable that Scalia, who believes such a law would be clearly unconstitutional, has more respect for the First Amendment than does Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

I meant what I said

Posted by: Reginald Perrin on June 7, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Trying to distinguish him from Rostovtzeff

Posted by: Reginald Perrin on June 7, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

What percentage of the vote did Scalia get last time he was up for reelection?

Posted by: Pat on June 7, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

The iconcolasm of Leo was directly responsible for the loss of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and pretty much made Italy unrecoverable for the Empire. While there was definitely consolidation closer to home, the loss of Justinian's Italian conquests to the Lombards were only helped by iconoclasm, as it greatly exacerbated the rift with Catholic Rome.

If I was at home I'd go chasing up the sections in John Julius Norwich's "A Short History of Byzantium" which are relevant, but I can't...

Much as I hate to dis your namesake (!) - while Constantine V was undoubtedly a great emperor, the Iconcolast controversy simmered on for many years after his rule, and it caused a great deal of political infighting and deposition of Emperors when energies could have been better focussed. That's why I see modern connections - at its heart the religious dispute was about politics, particularly the role of state and religion.

Iconclasm was partly an attempt by Emperors to break the political power of the monasteries. This article (at work - no time for a long dissertation!) pretty much sums up where I'm coming from:

Constantine V is well-known for his cruel persecution of monasteries and monks. "Ever since he became emperor," writes Theosterictus, "his entire purpose and desire was to wipe out the entire monastic garb."[16] Constantine forced monks to parade in the hippodrome at Constantinople, each leading a woman by the hand. Upon finding out that the persecution carried out by the 'strategos' (i.e., army general) Michael Lakhanodrakon had left no monk in the Thracesian theme, the emperor wrote to him, "I found you a man after my own heart; you are acting as I wish."[17] Monasteries were taken away from the monks and transformed into public houses. Laymen were forbidden or prevented from entering monasteries. All this led to wide migration of monks to areas beyond the control of the emeperor's persecutions.

It is worth noting, in this context, that iconophiles consisted mainly of monks and laymen, whereas the iconoclast faction usually comprised of the emperor, the civil service, and the army. Therefore, any persecution of iconophiles entailed a persecution of monks.[18] The latter (persecution of monks), however, could sometimes constitute the hidden agenda of the former, as actually occurred with Constantine V. The real target was, in some cases, the monk and not the icon.

What this reveals is not merely a desire for the dissolution of the Byzantine monasteries, but moreover a determination to break the power of 'the holy man'... in Byzantine society. The holy man of monastic background formed a locus of power that was independent and centrifugal: he met needs that were private, not collective; he was often situated in a non-urban environment (e.g., in a desert or provincial monastery); and his power or holiness was not invested by an appropriate authority, such as a bishop. Consequently, both emperor and bishop often felt their ecclesiastical and political authority threatened by the social influence exerted by the holy man. Thus, the monachomachy of Constantine V and the numerous bishops who followed him - which included the secularization of monastic property, the burning of books such as the Sayings of the Fathers, and forbidding people to visit an 'abba' or to receive communion from him - was aimed at severing the links between the monastic spiritual adviser and his clientele, links which were viewed as undermining the vested power structures of the church and empire.

Emperorors, including Constantine V, played the iconoclasm card because it suited them to do so politically. It was not good for the Empire in the long term...

Posted by: floopmeister on June 7, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

GOP, I am the requestor, and though I find it unfortunate that Senator Clinton would support an amendment on flag desecration, the point of this discussion is what Senator Frist, on behalf of the majority party, the Republicans, is proposing to debate in the Senate. And so I am asking the Republican party supporters here if they can give me a good reason why this should be a serious proposal to be considered. I.e. why is it more important to protect a symbol of freedom rather than the reality of freedom?

Any such amendment, by the way, to be intellecutally honest, should be stated as a modification of the First Amendment and not a stand alone. So it would read "Congress shall make no law...abridging freedom of speech except if the speech disrespects a national symbol in some fashion"

Posted by: Glenn on June 7, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

And I'm responding that Republican Party supporters here are no more obliged to give a good reason for banning flag burning than are Democratic Party supporters. Your gal Hillary not only wants to ban flag burning, she doesn't even believe it's protected by the First Amendment. Her view of the right to free speech is even narrower than Scalia's. But she gets a pass because she's a Democrat. Typical liberal hypocrisy and double standards.

Posted by: GOP on June 7, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Washington Post: Special election results offer scant evidence of the energized electorate Democrats need in November.

Sadly, they are correct. Rove's strategy, a laugh to Democrats, is proving once again to be a winner.

Posted by: Dicksknee on June 7, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Washington Post: Special election results offer scant evidence of the energized electorate Democrats need in November.

That was a great article. I particularly liked how it repeatedly compared Busby's percentage of the vote to Kerry's, but never to previous congressional races in the district.

Posted by: David on June 8, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Emperorors, including Constantine V, played the iconoclasm card because it suited them to do so politically. It was not good for the Empire in the long term...

Alright, sorry to go off on this tangent... But Hey, diss Constantine V all you want. My namesake is Constantine I. :) I wouldn't argue that iconoclasm was good for the Empire, but it certainly didn't lead the the empire's destruction. The major catastrophes of the empire didn't occur until long after iconoclasm was a non-factor. I suppose in this sense it depends on how seriously you regard the loss of the empire's Italian holdings-- the "existential threat" to the Empire was frm the Arab east, at the time, not the Latins/Franks, who wouldn't be a serious problem for another couple centuries... certainly by the time iconoclasm ended in 842 AD, the empire was as healthy had ever been.

On topic, GOPs manic, "oh YEAH, well what about HILLARY?" diversion amuses me.

On a pessistic note, what have we Dems got? Anything? The only hope I hold out for is that, clearly, the Dems must be perceived as a major threat to the GOP if the GOP has to put aside doing anything useful in favor of pointless amendments as a means of defending themselves. Other than that, I'm worried that CAs 50th district is a harbinger of worse things to come.

Posted by: Constantine on June 8, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

' Your gal Hillary not only wants to ban flag burning, she doesn't even believe it's protected by the First Amendment. Her view of the right to free speech is even narrower than Scalia's. But she gets a pass because she's a Democrat. Typical liberal hypocrisy and double standards.'
--GOP

Who said all Democrats support a Hillary candidacy? She is the worst choice the Party could make, not the least of which is her pandering, which is not quite as craven as The Decider, but bad enough. I also oppose her for the same reason I would strongly oppose Jeb Bush - Why not just name a royal family and stop having elections altogether???

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 8, 2006 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

>"I know in many meetings of our colleagues when the issue of marriage comes up, heads drop,"

Oh, Ricky's gonna do something about the 50% divorce rate?

If not, then he should STFU.

Posted by: doesn't matter on June 8, 2006 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Why not just take the top 2%, shoot them, then take all their money at one time?-- It would be more efficient..."

Well, um, technically then they wouldn't make any more money if we shot them, so it would be a one shot deal.

Unless you meant "shoot" without killing -- then you might be onto something, but it still seems flawed.

Posted by: eckersley on June 8, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

"What the president needs to do is look like a leader, not be somebody who looks like a politician who is overreacting to polls," Mr. Rollins said.

Like asking a skunk to stop stinking and smell like a rose.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 8, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the Romans wasted time and energy arguing about such non-issues while their empire crumbled.
Posted by: Speed

Yeah, they did in fact.

Rome... at its most decadent, had never thought of hiring an actor to go through the motions of being an emperor while the Praetorian Guard ruled.
Gore Vidal

"After years of gains for the poor, women, minorities, and labor throughout the Twentieth Century, a champion arose for America's White Capitalist Patriarchy in 1980. When Ronald Reagan took the driver's seat, he wasn't content to simply return justice and compassion to the back seat. He threw them in the trunk and left them there to rot." - Of Faustian Bargains and Disposable Human Beings - Jason Miller

Posted by: CFShep on June 8, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK
And I'm responding that Republican Party supporters here are no more obliged to give a good reason for banning flag burning than are Democratic Party supporters. Your gal Hillary not only wants to ban flag burning, she doesn't even believe it's protected by the First Amendment.

Since when is Hillary "our gal"? I don't remember many Democratic Party supporters here expressing much support for Hillary.

Do you support a ban on flag burning? If so, why?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 8, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a uniter, not a divider!

So if Rove is indicted and has to resign to spend quality time with his lawyers, will the strategy of sending divisive and base-pandering proposals up to the Hill finally go away? And where will Bush get his political strategy? Josh Bolten?

Posted by: KarlHunter on June 8, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

GOP,

Last I looked Hillary wasn't in charge of the Senate and setting its agenda. So, back to my question: why, substantively, does the Republican party, as represented by its Senate leadership, wish to amend the First Amendment to allow criminalization of dissenting speech?

Posted by: Glenn on June 8, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Quoting GORE VIDAL as an authority on Roman history? Oy!
I have one name for you: Elagabalus.

Posted by: ReginaldPerrin on June 8, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

KarlHunter (nice name):

Do you consider Abe Lincoln a uniter, not a divider?

Posted by: Don P. on June 8, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Since when is Hillary "our gal"? I don't remember many Democratic Party supporters here expressing much support for Hillary.

I don't remember many criticizing her either. She gets a pass because she's a Democrat.

But I agree you and your comrades don't much like most Democrats, either. Most of you are so far out on the loony left that you consider anyone to the right of Ralph Nader a conservative.

Posted by: GOP on June 8, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: I don't remember . . .

How fitting from someone who refers to themself as "GOP".

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 9, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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