Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>Other fish to fry</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Friday, March 25, 2005

Other fish to fry

Less than a year ago, most Americans had never heard of Tom DeLay. Although he’s one of the most powerful men in Washington, he’s stayed below the radar and kept most of his heavy-handed activities under the table, and usually below the belt. But since his success at stacking the deck for Republicans in the Texas Legislature, those he’s trampled have brought him and his activities into the spotlight, resulting in official reprimands from the House Ethics Committee and a constant barrage from the media. He calls it “partisan attacks”, but I call it “sweeeeet!”

He recently enjoyed a brief respite from criticism while he helped engineer the Schiavo feeding tube legislation debacle, and will likely milk that for all the political points he can from the religious right, but at least the majority of Americans now know him and his modus operandi.

I’ve been lambasting him since I started blogging a few months ago, so it’s gratifying to see him swinging in the wind. Although he’s far from finished in politics, the usually outspoken “Hammer” is now avoiding the press (with the exception of the Schiavo thing) and his legislative lapdogs are worried and distancing themselves from him whenever possible.

While we can’t let up on DeLay and let him fade back into powerful obscurity, there are other fish to fry. One such could be John Duncan, Jr, R-Tennessee. Not being in his district, or even his state, I’d never heard of him. But he made some news recently when he compared opponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Nazis.

“It is amazing how they have distorted this issue, almost worse than Nazi propaganda.”

He’s been given a 100% approval rating by the National Right to Life Committee, and was awarded and “A” by the National Rifle Association.

On the other end of the spectrum, he’s been rated “0” by the Human Rights Campaign and the National Organization for Women.

Now he’s been chosen to host Tartan Week, a Scottish initiative to promote Scotland internationally.

The MSP for Hamilton South had expected to use Tartan Week, the worldwide celebration of Scottish history and culture, as a way of promoting the nation as a thriving place in which to live and work. He had also intended to use his visit to the States to strengthen the links with the millions of Americans who claim to have Scots ancestry.

But the Executive’s itinerary of meetings and events is set to be overshadowed by the inclusion within the schedule of one of Washington’s most right-wing politicians.

Duncan, who co-sponsored a Tartan Day resolution in the House of Representatives, is a social conservative and a favourite among Christian and gun groups.


Needless to say, Scottish liberals are up in arms. They’re trying to repair the images of Scotland and Tartan Week, which have been tarnished by association with right wing groups.

News of Duncan’s conservative politics is the latest blow for an event that has a knack of attracting incendiary right-wing Republicans.

Tartan Week was first tarnished in the late 1990s when it became associated with Trent Lott, the Mississippi senator who once described homosexuality as an addiction that could be cured. He later resigned as majority leader after praising segregationist Strom Thurmond.

The yearly celebration has also been undermined in the past by southern groups using the event as a way of linking their Scottish ancestry with ideas of white supremacy.


So while Tom DeLay stews in his own juices, I’ll be researching John Duncan. Who knows, maybe he’s really a good guy getting a bad rap. But if he’s the darling of the religious right and the gun crowd, I kinda doubt it.

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