Sunday morning commentary is devoid of policy and full of partisanship

By Monica Groat

Sunday morning talk shows are a chance to throw around the same poll-tested accusations and recycled quips in front of an audience that acknowledges the shallowness of the rhetoric, but understands the realities of the political game and watches for the P.R. spectacle. These shows tend to converge on one idea each week, presenting current events in a convenient, rotating cycle of international conflicts, domestic squabbles, and political mudslinging. This combination is not limited to Sunday mornings, but Tim Russert and the like often present prime examples by catering to the very tendencies that journalism strives to eschew.

This Sunday offered an opportunity for Democrats to challenge the GOP’s claim of being the party of family values. This past week, Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist decided to participate in a lobbying effort by the Family Research Council. The FRC is producing a telecast that will be distributed to churches throughout the country as a means of portraying Democrats as “against people of faith” by standing in opposition to Bush’s judicial nominees. Mounting a campaign in preparation for “Justice Sunday,” the FRC’s posters for this event accuse members of the Senate who voted to preserve the filibuster of pitting “public service” against “faith in Christ.”

While this appearance will be Frist’s induction into the GOP’s efforts to use religion as a weapon, Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader, is no stranger to this practice. The most recent example of DeLay’s attempts was his threat against judges who ruled in the Terri Schiavo case. He promised “retaliation” against any judge standing opposed to his “culture of life.” This phrase is a euphemism used to attack any social, cultural, and theological views not conforming to the GOP’s political agenda. When examined in context with the announcement of Frist’s appearance, DeLay’s accusations only serve to demonstrate that if anyone can be found guilty of supporting “judicial activism,” they are spewing contradictions, in thought and in deed, from the right.

This Sunday served as a reminder that there isn’t a “liberal bias” or even a “conservative agenda” within the media; there is merely a lot of empty speech. Any investigation against one of the most prominent leaders within the House, whether Republican or Democrat, deserves serious political discourse, as does the recent vote regarding the filibuster in the Senate. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I buy into the political feuds and their tabloid-esque dramas as much as the next person. Listening to the sound-bites from this past Sunday, however, did not really satisfy some raging liberal desire to see DeLay drawn and quartered; I just felt fed up with it all. I may have gotten a taste of why people say that they do not vote because they are sick of politics. But that is not an excuse, and there is a simple way to change all of that.

Talking about issues, such as legislation involving the filibuster or the judiciary system, is possible without throwing about wild accusations concerning the religion of others. Maybe, with the DeLay controversy, both sides can take a minute to realize why politics look so ugly to so many. While holding hands may be too much to ask, some honest debate, without invoking the religious beliefs of others as some sort of weapon, is needed. If Republicans want to continue down the same path, and eventually hang DeLay out to dry, they can and are currently well on their way. Maybe, however, it is finally time that someone actually decides to “face the nation.”