GOP leaders are threatening Democratic Senators with an election season "shocker" if they fail to confirm President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Judge John G. Roberts. To symbolize their unity, GOP members have even coined a three-fingered salute—the extended pinky represents the out of control judiciary that they say Judge Roberts will tame. They're also taunting their Democratic opponents with perhaps the ultimate symbol of ridicule: giant foam mitts more often seen at sporting events than in the halls of Congress.
A three-fingered salute is now the official gesture of the GOP
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC--New York Senator Hillary Clinton knew she was in trouble when a constituent arrived in her office this week sporting an enormous foam mitt stamped with the words 'shock 'em.' Aids to Mrs. Clinton say that the constituent proceeded to explain the oversized three-fingered gesture to her--that each finger represented a branch of government, and the extended pinky stood for an out of control judiciary.
If the Senator failed to approve President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge John G. Roberts, she should be prepared for a "shocker" at election time, explained the constituent. "It definitely made her uncomfortable, "says a source who says that Mrs. Clinton confided in her about the encounter. "This kind of pressure is really new to her."
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A new GOP unity symbol
That's exactly the response that GOP Senate leaders including Dr. Bill Frist and Senator Trent Lott are hoping from Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats who may be tempted to hold out rather than put the matter of Judge Roberts' confirmation battle to bed. It's also a sign of how unified members of the Republican Party are these days, and just how effectively the grassroots of the party follows official GOP talking points.
The three-fingered phenomenon allegedly began this spring after Dr. Frist joined Dr. James Dobson and other religious leaders in Justice Sunday, an event celebrating the Judeo-Christian values that are the bedrock of the GOP. Buoyed by the response he received from 'people of faith,' Dr. Frist reportedly began his search for a symbol that GOP members could use to represent their cause.
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While explaining his idea to a fellow Senator, Dr. Frist is said to have joined together his index and middle and ring fingers to demonstrate what the relationship between the three branches of government should look like. Then to symbolize just how out of control the judiciary is, the Senate leader pulled down his ring finger, allowing his pinky to extend wildly. "Now everybody is doing it," says a Senate staffer. "Members flash the sign to each other in the hallways and on the floor of the Senate. And there’s nothing the Democrats can do but sit back and take it.”
Grassroots: prepared to be 'shocked'
With the majority of Americans far more concerned with the confirmation of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee than with issues such as health care or the high price of gasoline, it was only a matter of time before outraged citizens claimed the new unity symbol for themselves. "The foam hands were not Senator Frist's idea," says spokesperson Rick Smith. "And while he believes that many obstructionist Democratic Senators will receive an election year 'shocker,' that is not the official position of the Republican Party."
The Coalition for Traditional Values and other conservative Christian advocacy groups are encouraging concerned citizens to send foam rubber fingers to their two U.S. Senators, asking them to support Judge Roberts--or risk a serious "shocker" come election day.