How Judge Roy Moore Could Beat Bush and Cheney at Their Own Righteous Game

It had to happen. Sooner or later, someone even more reprehensible, extremist, and paranoid than George W. Bush or Dick Cheney had to come along. That day is nigh.

Former Judge Roy Moore, who gained national attention when he masterfully staged a showdown in Alabama over posting the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, is looking presidential.

A fascinating and well-researched story in the Boston Globe shows how pumping up the Christian far right might come home to bite Bush/Rove squarely in the ass.

Moore, a Republican who enjoys widespread support in his home state, is poised to run against a vulnerable Republican governor. If he wins, some party strategists speculate, he could defy a federal court order again by erecting a religious monument outside the Alabama state Capitol building.

With the 2008 presidential race looming, President Bush would then face a no-win decision: either call out the National Guard to enforce a court order against a religious display on state grounds or allow a fellow born-again Christian to defy the courts.

Ah yes. Having made a deal with the devil that is the born-again “silent” minority, Bush could find himself out-righteoused. Actually, he already did in the Schiavo case, and those same folks who showed up with bottles of water and homemade cookies to “feed” Terri haven’t forgotten and are behind the Moore campaign.

Polls indicate that Moore, a 58-year-old graduate of West Point, has a good shot at beating Governor Bob Riley in next year’s Republican primary. Riley angered conservatives by signing the largest tax increase in Alabama history in an effort to get the state’s fiscal house in order and make the tax code more progressive…

Meanwhile, the former state chief justice is bolstering his national standing. He has filed amicus curiae briefs in two Supreme Court cases expected to be decided this month that will determine whether displays of the Ten Commandments on public grounds in Texas and Kentucky violate the US Constitution.

On Capitol Hill, Moore is lobbying for legislation in Congress to strip federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction over any challenges to government agencies or officials that acknowledge ”God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

Sounds like Moore is the poster child for “activist judges.” And talk about a victim mentality. This guy has the required pissed-off-with-all-this-liberal-nonsense pique down to a red-faced science.

…In his autobiography, ”So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom,” Moore frequently casts himself as a lone man of principle battling dark forces…

Fully aware that he would attract a lawsuit, Moore hung in his courtroom a redwood plaque of the Ten Commandments. A local ACLU attorney complained; Moore described this as ”the first time the civil rights group attempted to intimidate me.”

He also began opening his court sessions with a prayer. In 1994, six months into his tenure, the ACLU recorded his prayer — and a local star was born.

The media covered the subsequent lawsuit, crowds singing ”Amazing Grace” showed up in support. A year later, Moore launched his race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Moore at least makes no pretense of being a “uniter not a divider.” His world view is strictly us vs. them, and the number that qualifies as “us” is…pretty much just him.

”Roy was never that interested in what the law was versus what he wanted to do,” said James Hedgespeth, the county’s district attorney for 18 years and a Democrat who describes his personal relations with Moore as cordial. ”I always thought the code books in his office were just for decoration. He always felt he knew better than anyone else.”

Expect to hear more from Moore in the dark days ahead. Having empowered the previously marginal Bible literalist beast, Bush/Rove can now figure out how to tame it.

In 2004, after the disciplinary panel had forced Moore to resign, supporters urged him to run for president, but he decided the timing was not right. Phillips compares Moore’s national popularity to that of Pat Robertson, the TV evangelist whose 1988 bid for president divided the GOP, and said Moore is well-positioned to consider his own run.

”There’s no question he would heighten the debate on the whole issue of religion and politics,” Scarborough said. ”And nationally, there is a core following that would be faithful to him.”


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