California Senator Barbara Boxer is your standard-issue shrill, humorless, doctrinaire liberal who knows what's best for everyone else and will force it on them whether they want it or not. Naturally, this makes her a leading light among her Democratic colleagues.
Ms. Boxer exhibits a keen insight that is the envy of other solons. Speaking of earthquake victims, she shrewdly observed: "Those who survived said, 'Thank God I'm still alive,' but of course those who died, well, their lives will never be the same."
Ever vigilant, Ms. Boxer recently picked up on a rumor that Pope Benedict XVI would visit the United States this month. Then she learned that other senators planned to introduce a resolution welcoming His Holiness to the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The incisive Senator Boxer carefully examined the proposed resolution. She wasn't pleased. Some of the language could possibly, maybe, perhaps be construed as circuitously critical of one of liberaldom's most revered sacraments, abortion. This is simply intolerable.
The Politico Web site reported what happened. As originally drafted, the resolution recognized Pope Benedict "has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable, witnessing to the value of each and every human life."
Liberals believe that references to the value of human life might well be an attack on killing unborn babies. So that last part just had to go.
Ms. Boxer's scrutiny also uncovered other language that was similarly unacceptable. One section noted the Pontiff "has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty that neither attempts to strip our public spaces of religious expression nor denies the ultimate source of our rights and liberties."
Oh, oh. The end of the sentence seems to approve of religious expressions in public places. Suggesting that to a liberal is akin to holding up a crucifix to Count Dracula. So the new and improved Boxer version observed that Pope Benedict "has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty."
The resolution welcoming the Pope was designed for approval by unanimous consent on a voice vote, a quick way of getting something through the infamously sluggish Senate. Because of that mechanism, it was circulated to all senators for their review and approval.
Ms. Boxer wasn't in an approving mood. She insisted on the changes she wanted as the price for unanimous consent. It was her way or the highway.
If she had anything to do with it, the U. S. Senate would not be found in the awkward position of supporting the concept that human life is valuable. Nor would it get trapped into accepting religious expressions in public settings.
And, as so often happens, the GOP was ready, willing and able to acquiesce. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas had originated the resolution and removed the "objectionable" language.
Conservatives once were habitually accused of seeing Communists under every bed. These days, liberals see an attack on their much-loved abortion, and governmental establishment of religion, everywhere.
Senator Boxer's intransigence was reminiscent of a 2001 incident in "the other body," as the House is referred to by senators. Another customary, innocuous resolution was introduced. It congratulated former President Ronald Reagan on his 90th birthday and wished him well.
At the time, President Reagan was battling Alzheimer's disease and recovering from a recent surgery. The resolution was merely a routine expression of respect extended to former commanders-in-chief.
But with liberals, nothing — other than contempt for common sense — is routine. Seven of the most liberal Democrats in the House voted "present" rather than endorse a simple act of kindness.
They talk of love and kindness, forgiveness and compassion, and of compromising for the common good. Yet many liberals are pettily vindictive. Their world is one big Burger King, where they can always have it their way.
Changing the words of a resolution greeting the Pontiff isn't the end of the world. It is, however, a reminder of how uncompromisingly strident these self-styled open minded progressives can be.
Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column