More GOP Civil War: Anti-Choice Extremists Hang Lindsey Graham In Effigy On Capitol Hill
Lunatic fringe wingnut Randall Terry, a longtime flickering star in the Republican firmament, was down in South Carolina hanging Lindsey Graham effigies after Graham said he would vote to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, one of 4 Republicans to publicly do so thus far. But even in Greenville, an extremist bastion in a pretty extremist state, most people were more disgusted with Terry's stunt than with Graham's position.
The anti-abortion activist filmed two skits while in downtown. One of them involved Randall's employee constructing gallows to hang the mannequin with Graham's picture on it.
The other skit involved a stick and a piñata. The workers hit the piñata, which had a picture of Graham on it, until plastic babies fell out of it... A few on-lookers expressed their disgust with Terry's performance.
Yesterday Terry turned up on Capitol Hill for the same publicity stunt. The police rolled their eyes, told him how far he could go-- playing with dolls is ok but burning or beating one with a stick was a no-no (although slapping the effigy was allowed)-- and the crowds just ignored Terry.
[T]he attention-getting tactic can backfire. Hanging and burning effigies can turn away potential supporters, lead to legal action, and prompt concerns about mob violence.
Many of the people who walked by Terry's display outside a Senate building Thursday morning turned away. Media reports of similar actions earlier this week in South Carolina mentioned similar reactions there.
That's why many advocacy groups stay away from the tactic.
During the health care debate last summer, members of Americans for Prosperity attended an unaffiliated protest where a man hung an effigy of Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.). The AFP activists quickly left to ensure their group would not be tied with the act.
The incident has become a legendary example among the group's activists of what not to do at a protest.
"When something like that happens, the media doesn't pick up on the message," Dave Schwartz, the group's state director, said. "They pick up on someone crazy doing something stupid."
...Outside the Senate building, Terry was careful to say that it was the senator's political career-- and not the man himself-- that he wanted to see hung.
"We don't want Senator Graham to fear for his safety," he said. "We want him to fear for his political career."
And Graham would have to be crazy not to. He's been outed as a closet case (again) and he's watched mainstream conservative allies like Bob Inglis and Gresham Barrett go down to ignominious electoral defeat this year at the hands of angry, riled up teabaggers, while another conservative ally, Henry Brown was forced to retire rather than face defeat. Maybe Terry picked Greenville because Greenville for his stunt because Graham had already gotten into a serious tussle with right-wing activists there before, warning that he had no intention of abandoning the Republican Party to fringe radicals like Ron Paul.
Terry was barnstorming against Graham over his support for a moderate judge he perceives will be pro-Choice. Other radical right activists hate Graham because he's perceived as being insufficiently anti-immigrant, too open to that whole Enlightenment thing and science, in favor of figuring out a rational way to deal with Climate Change. And, of course, because he's a homo. It would be hard to imagine Graham winning a Republican primary in South Carolina again. After he was defeated, Bob Inglis let loose on the GOP extremists, racists, and teabaggers for his own defeat.
Too many Republican leaders are acquiescing to a poisonous "demagoguery" that threatens the party's long-term credibility, says a veteran GOP House member who was defeated in South Carolina's primary last month.
While not naming names, 12-year incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis suggested in interviews with the Associated Press that tea party favorites such as former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and right-wing talk show hosts like Glenn Beck are the culprits.
He cited a claim made famous by Palin that the Democratic health care bill would create "death panels" to decide whether elderly or sick people should get care.
"There were no death panels in the bill ... and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It's not leadership. It's demagoguery," said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.
Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you're "preying on their fears" and turn away.
"I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading," he said. "What it takes to lead is to say, 'You know, that's just not right.'"
Inglis said the rhetoric also distracts from the real problems that politicians should be trying to resolve, such as budget deficits and energy security.
"It's a real concern, because I think what we're doing is dividing the country into partisan camps that really look a lot like Shia and Sunni," he said, referring to the two predominant Islamic denominations that have feuded for centuries. "It's very difficult to come together to find solutions."
Inglis' refusal to join in on the Obama-bashing of the far right played a big role in his landslide defeat on June 22. Leading up to the election, he frequently challenged voters who questioned the president's citizenship or patriotism. At one town hall meeting, he was jeered for saying that Beck, a Fox News Channel host, is a divisive fearmonger.
In his primary runoff against prosecutor Trey Gowdy, Inglis failed to break 30 percent, an improbably low result for a sitting incumbent not embroiled in scandal.
Things can change in politics and 2014 is a long ways away, but... Graham will be a relatively young 59 when he has to decide if he wants to face the same humiliating defeats that Inglis and Gresham faced. My guess is he'll opt for an Executive appointment by either second term Obama or first term Romney.