Political Hay

The GOP Implodes

Immigration, gay marriage divide party: legalization of polygamy, adultery pushed.

By 6.27.13

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…..I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
-- “For What It’s Worth,” Buffalo Springfield

It is dramatic to watch.

The Republican Party is imploding.

Collapsing in on itself as party leaders and corporatists find themselves doing battle with the party’s base over immigration. While yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) pitted ex-Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson and ex-RNC chair Ken Mehlman and GOP signers to a petition supporting gay marriage against others led by Virginia Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The gay marriage battle was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy  -- a Reagan appointee -- who portrayed those who genuinely believe gay marriage opens the door to the dissolution of marriage as nothing more than homophobic bigots, drawing an incensed rebuke from another Reagan appointee, Justice Antonin Scalia.  All this even as polygamists celebrate and press forward with the demand to legalize polygamy. And Colorado does the same with adultery.

The highly flammable combination threatening not just the GOP’s 2014 congressional elections but the 2016 presidential campaign -- if not the party’s very existence.

First, immigration.

Yesterday, the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro reported:  

Critics of the Democrat-led immigration rewrite are bombarding Senate offices with thousands of phone calls, and advocates say those calls are keeping numerous wayward GOP Senators from joining the Democrats’ immigration bill.

“Five hundred [calls] yesterday, and right now, they’re just ringing non-stop,” said an upset staffer at the office of Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, who has voted on both sides of the dispute.

Protestors have sent “hundreds or thousands” of calls to Ohio Republican Sen. Robert Portman’s Republican office, a staff member told The Daily Caller.

The Munro story was instantly picked up by Rush Limbaugh, who led his show with the story.

The furious backlash comes after fifteen Republicans in the Senate abandoned the party base over the immigration issue, voting for the phony Corker-Hoeven “border security” measure that in fact makes it explicitly clear that the final decision as to whether the border is to be secured is left to the discretion of President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano.

Hat tip here to Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle, who writes

The new version of the “Gang of Eight” bill, repackaged with the “border surge” amendment from Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to decide whether or not to implement the border security technology and fencing provisions in the bill. Ignoring them would result in no repercussions whatsoever.

On Page 30, line 4 of the new bill, there is a provision that gives Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (or any of her successors) complete discretion on deploying certain technology or use “alternate technology” instead. The language of the bill, however, also allows her to deploy no additional technology.

“If the Secretary determines that an alternate or new technology is at least as effective as the technologies described in paragraph (3) and provides a commensurate level of security, the Secretary may deploy that technology in its place and without regard to the minimums in this section,” that part of the new bill reads. “The Secretary shall notify Congress within 60 days of any such determination.”

Got that?

After listing chapter and verse about where on the border what technologies should be used, the Corker-Hoeven amendment “would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to decide whether or not to implement the border security technology and fencing provisions in the bill. Ignoring them would result in no repercussions whatsoever.”  Giving the Secretary the authority to whatever she wants -- including ignoring the instructions to secure the border.

Napolitano, of course, is famous for insisting to an agreeable Senator Lindsay Graham:

“I say this again as someone who has walked that border,” she said. “I’ve ridden that border. I’ve flown it. I’ve driven it. I know that border I think as well as anyone, and I will tell you it is as secure now as it has ever been.”

The fifteen GOP Senators who bought into the idea of giving Napolitano the authority to make the final decision on border security are the so-called “Gang of Eight” Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.). The others: Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeff Chiesa (N.J.), Susan Collins (Maine), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).  

New Jersey’s Chiesa, take note, was just appointed to the Senate by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and immediately sided with Senate liberals.  So much for President Christie, who rejected any number of genuine conservatives to appoint a liberal pal. He will make Hillary Clinton a wonderful running mate.

The backlash began to build after passage of Corker-Hoeven.

Things were, if possible, even worse in the House. Where one conservative after another has noted that the scheme is to pass a hardline GOP immigration bill, let it go to conference with the Senate, then emerge with a so-called “compromise” that favors the Senate -- and pass it without implementing the so-called “Hastert Rule,” which provides that a GOP Speaker will never pass a piece of legislation without a majority of his own Republican members. Indeed, National Review’s Jonathan Strong asked Speaker John Boehner directly what his intentions were, and got this reply from Boehner: “We’ll see when we get there.”

Yesterday, this story in Roll Call reporting that Boehner will not bring the Senate bill to the floor of the House only added to suspicion that the idea of passing the House bill and then taking it to a House-Senate conference and then caving is in fact the goal of the House GOP leadership.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann calls this the “Trojan Horse” bill.

Collectively all of this has fueled an enormous uproar in the conservative base.

Talk radio stars have let loose. Sean Hannity kept hammering away on border security. Mark Levin ran through the names of the fifteen senators one by one, blistering them as he went.  “I will never support him again,” Levin remarked of Arizona’s Republican Senator Jeff Flake, whom he had on the radio show when Flake was a candidate. A tape of a John McCain ad from 2010 was played when McCain was portraying himself as someone who wanted to secure “the dang border.”  He too came on Levin’s show and has now gone back on his promise.  Levin continued with the list of GOP Senators who had caved on border security: “Ayotte from New Hampshire -- a complete disappointment…. Rubio from Florida…I think he’s done enormous damage to himself.”

But talk radio wasn’t the only place the GOP implosion showed itself.

Over at Fox, as on her radio show, Laura Ingraham eviscerated the bill while sparring with Bill O’Reilly, noting “you could drive a truck through” all the loopholes in the bill.

Over at the Weekly Standard Bill Kristol was pointed as he focused on House Republicans, bold print for emphasis mine:

Meanwhile, with respect to the 2014 congressional elections, it's increasingly clear that allowing any form or permutation of the Senate bill to become law would divide and demoralize potential Republican voters. So if Republicans want to win House and Senate seats in 2014, John Boehner should kill the Senate bill--first refusing to take it up in the House, and also by making clear the House will refuse to go to conference with it. The House can still pass specific bills to address particular immigration issues this session (which presumably the Senate won't take up--but let Harry Reid explain his refusal to do so). But the key is for Boehner to kill "comprehensive" immigration "reform" in this session of Congress.…

[T]he House GOP, for the sake of party and country, should say no: No Capitulation, No "Comprehensive" Bill, No Conference.

Suffice to say, Levin’s sentiments, Ingraham's dissection, and Kristol’s analysis are typical of views that have spread like wildfire through the GOP base.

What makes all of this so politically dangerous is the direct threat it poses first to the GOP’s 2014 elections, followed by the 2016 presidential election itself.

The perception is being repeatedly reinforced that GOP leaders are in league with liberals. That a game is being played with the base. 

That once again, in the style of the Stimulus and Obamacare, a massive, 1,000-plus page bill that is utterly incomprehensible yet carries enormous consequences is being passed over the objections of the base. In the case of the stimulus and Obamacare, then-GOP Senator Arlen Specter went down this road and wound up losing his seat as the Pennsylvania GOP base angrily abandoned him for conservative Pat Toomey. Specter desperately tried to save himself by switching parties, only to lose there as well.  This time around what we are seeing is the Specter pattern repeating itself -- but this time with a vastly larger number of Republicans making Specter’s mistake. A group that notably includes potential 2016 GOP candidates Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.

All of this, of course, is played out against the background of the scandals swirling around the IRS, the Justice Department, and the State Department’s issues with Benghazi and the alleged cover-up of a prostitute scandal.

And now, on top of this raging bonfire, the gasoline of gay marriage is tossed with the help of a boatload of prominent Republicans. There are those, as mentioned in that New York Times story from a few months back, who signed on to a petition in support of gay marriage. Then there are those like Virginia Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial Ken Cuccinelli, who filed an amicus brief with the Court warning of what so many conservatives see as inevitable, the slippery slope slide to a world where marriage is essentially and effectively abolished. Wrote Cuccinelli:

Once the natural limits that inhere in the relationship between a man and a woman can no longer sustain the definition of marriage, the conclusion that follows is that any grouping of adults would have an equal claim to marriage. See, e.g., Jonathan Turley, One Big, Happy Polygamous Family, NY Times, July 21, 2011, at A27 (“[Polygamists] want to be allowed to create a loving family according to the values of their faith.”).

Exacerbating this difference within the GOP that is symbolized by Cuccinelli on one side and former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson and ex-RNC Chair Ken Mehlman on the other is the laughable -- but highly dangerous  -- assumption of moral superiority expressed by Kennedy and the Court’s liberals in writing their opinion. The redoubtable Justice Antonin Scalia wrote his pungent reply to this assumption of moral superiority this way:

But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority's judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to "disparage," "injure," "degrade," "demean," and "humiliate" our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence -- indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.

It takes real cheek for today's majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here -- when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority's moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress's hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will "confine" the Court's holding is its sense of what it can get away with.

In the majority's telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one's political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today's Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today's decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Scalia was both right -- and wise.

How wise was to be found in another news story on this subject from yesterday. This one from the Salt Lake City Tribune, which ran their story with this headline: 

Utah polygamist finds something to like in gay marriage rulings

The news story began:

Polygamists and their supporters celebrated Wednesday, saying they see implications for their cause in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Just hours after the court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional, Joe Darger said he and his family were pleased and celebrating. Darger, who with his three wives detailed their life in the book “Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage,” called the gay marriage ruling a victory and said it by extension should help remedy polygamists’ treatment as “second class citizens.”

“The government can’t single out a single class of people for favorable or unfavorable treatment,” he said.

Darger added that he believes the decision also will influence the high-profile Brown case, which is currently pending in Utah before Judge Clark Waddoups. In that case, the polygamous Brown family -- which is well known from the TV show "Sister Wives" -- is suing to strike down the statute that makes bigamy a third-degree felony. 

This is inevitable, as night follows day. And as we have often written in this space, the supporters of legalizing polygamy, polyamory, and adultery have been hard at work, using precisely the arguments of the gay marriage supporters.

In Colorado, for example, ABC 7 News in Denver reported this story earlier this year:  

Bill to repeal Colorado adultery law passes Senate, heads to Governor Hickenlooper for signature

DENVER -- The crime of adultery could soon be struck from Colorado's law books after the state Senate approved the bill and sent it to the governor.

The Democratic-controlled Senate gave final approval to the bill Wednesday to removing what supporters say is an outdated 19-century statute.

So if you’re in Colorado and your spouse wants to fool around, what’s the big deal?

Answer?

Not only will there be no big deal, there will be no legal big deal. And if you have quaint notions of concepts like commitment, you will soon find yourself, to borrow from Justice Scalia, considered to be a bigot, someone who is quick to condemn, demean, or humiliate those, like the spouse you thought of as your one-and-only significant other, who would prefer other occasional arrangements. Think Bill Clinton and Paula. Monica. Gennifer and… well… all the rest of the Clinton paramours who for some strange reason seemed to drive Hillary into paroxysms of what we must apparently now call bigoted rage.

One doesn’t have to be a Southern Baptist to see the extraordinary danger posed to a stable society in all of this. Years ago the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) saw this destruction descending on the black community not as a result of gay marriage but because welfare and the federal government had so injected itself into the lives of poor Americans that the state wound up replacing fathers as a source of support. The black family effectively deteriorated, noted Moynihan, and the result is the chaos and gun shots of the inner city. The rudder of the mother-father, two-parent relationship removed, disaster ensued.

Those who staunchly defend same-sex marriage as “fairness” are suddenly brisk when the notion that the same standards of fairness must be applied to their own marriage. Yet on the road down which we are now headed, if marriage can be challenged -- so too can words like “commitment” or “legal obligation.” Worse, the charge of bigotry will soon stick to those who think legalizing adultery is one step too far.

So.

Here we are.

With a virtual civil war breaking out in the Republican Party over immigration and gay marriage.

A war that has the base of the party edging every day towards flatly refusing to support their own party, essentially giving Democrats a free ride in 2014 and 2016.

How will this end?

Stay tuned.

Photo: UPI

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.