May 19, 2003
Orrin Hatch: The Maestro
SPECIAL BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
While conservatives who are mortals must content themselves with merely lying every time they open their mouths, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has evolved into a superhuman fabricator extraordinaire. Hatch has an implacable vendetta against reality; he treats facts the way Itchy treats Scratchy. In his unctuous way, the senator has established himself as the most shamelessly hypocritical operative in a political movement based on shameless hypocrisy and festering with hypocritical operatives.
Hatch is prevaricating poetry in motion; witnessing him lie is like watching Da Vinci sketch in charcoal or listening to Hendrix play a Stratocaster. Orrin Hatch is a savant in the art of deception – so prolific, yet so effortless. His magisterial recitals are exhilarating - you feel like standing and cheering: "Bravo, Maestro! Please favor us with a thrilling encore of your deadpan rhapsody about how the Endangered Species Act is the primary cause of unemployment in America!"
As a result of his all-encompassing mendacity, the morally superior people of the red state of Utah revere Hatch, repeatedly returning him to the Senate with overwhelming majorities. One analyst put it this way: "Unless Orrin has the misfortune to run against a convicted perjurer, he will be re-elected forever."
Hatch’s latest molestation of the truth involves the nomination of right wing Stepford Wife Miguel Estrada to a federal judgeship. To hear Hatch tell it, anti-Hispanic bigotry is the only possible reason for opposing the latest Antonin Scalia clone. This premise makes bigots of Democratic senators, the public in general, and even Hispanic Americans, who apparently loathe themselves unless they conform to the desires of Señor Hatch.
That would be the same Señor Hatch who spent eight years opposing the Hispanic judicial nominees of President Clinton; in fact, Hatch sought to prevent them from even receiving the courtesy of the Judiciary Committee Hearing that Estrada has already been given (twice). Through the years, Hatch has consistently fought the Hispanic community on everything from civil liberties to education funding to economic opportunity. Now, he finds it politically expedient to pose as the champion of Hispanics in order to gain the confirmation of yet another reactionary judge.
A brief detour into reality: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus opposes Estrada, as does the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He is supported by anti-immigration groups like American Patrol and Voice of Citizens Together that rail against the influx of "brown sludge" into this country.
Even though Estrada has repeatedly been voted down, Hatch continues to push ever harder, striving to win through an endless repetition of lies designed to erode the will of the opposition. The most unfortunate feature of American politics is that the less validity a cause possesses, the greater devotion it inspires in its advocates. No one in this country is more committed to his objectives than is Orrin Hatch, and no objectives are less worthy of such commitment.
The quintessential Hatch moment occurred in 2000 during the Florida recount. The senator was being interviewed about vote-counting procedures when he misinterpreted a question. He launched into a stirring defense of what he thought was the Bush position and condemned anyone who disagreed with him as being un-American. When it was pointed out that he had actually just defended the Gore point of view, Hatch – without flinching or showing the slightest outward sign of embarrassment – then launched into a stirring defense of the opposite position and condemned anyone who disagreed with him as being un-American.
Even in the amoral world of "public service", Hatch has carved out a special niche as a liar’s liar and demagogue nonpareil. To paraphrase Will Rogers, Orrin Hatch never met a smear he didn’t like. He was the point man during the Republican gang rape of Professor Anita Hill’s reputation. On that occasion, Hatch repeatedly accused Hill of being mentally deranged as he successfully diverted attention away from the numerous acts of perjury that had been committed by Clarence Thomas. The senator has also publicly questioned the sanity of Lani Guinier and Dr. Joycelyn Elders, a roster of targets that - to the perceptive observer - might constitute a theme.
Hatch was a leader in the drive to manufacture a reason to impeach Bill Clinton, implying that the Republicans had gruesome evidence of incriminating behavior by the president that was just too grotesque to reveal – or even discuss - in public. The devastating proof against Clinton remains hidden to this day, a remarkable tribute to the extreme discretion and sense of fair play that one always associates with the far right.
It has been quite a career for Orrin Hatch, and in his role as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the best is undoubtedly yet to come. The man who made it his personal crusade to maintain as many vacancies in the courts as possible by ruthlessly stiff-arming highly qualified Clinton nominees will now burnish his own legacy by ramming through one right wing fanatic after another. He will invoke double standards and cite nonexistent precedents in order to hijack the federal court system by any means necessary.
Ultimately, there looms the grand prize: a reliable fifth Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Hatch has stated that he is absolutely determined to make this happen, and in order to overcome the great public resistance to the destruction of reproductive rights, he will have to play to his own strengths: hypocrisy, duplicity, and an unlimited supply of good old-fashioned self-righteous bullshit.
Hatch learned the value of deceit by watching his boyhood hero, Richard Nixon, himself a master of deception and slander. If the senator’s role model were able to observe the current political landscape, he would be gratified to see that Orrin Hatch is faithfully carrying on the venerable Republican tradition of defaming opponents and diminishing public discourse with a never-ending torrent of malicious partisan lies.
"Checkers," the old degenerate would say approvingly as he stroked his flea-ridden little mascot, "I never did it better myself."
A SPECIAL BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
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