These Zombie Republicans from the '80s Show the Party Is a Big—If Plague-Ridden—Tent

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images

From Esquire

My lord, the Undead of the 1980s are wandering through the news again. First, it seems that Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign is going to be stalked by Randall Terry, the anti-choice extremist who founded Operation Rescue back in 1986. From the Boone Republican-News:

Randall Terry’s drive through southeast Iowa Monday was part of a larger protest he will wage this week against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Terry, an anti-abortion activist known for picketing abortion clinics and displaying images of aborted fetuses, parked his tour bus near the Burlington riverfront to condemn Democrats to those who walked by.

“My goal is to wake-up the Christians who are still voting Democrat and to say to them to put loyalty to God and the babies first,” said Terry. Terry said he intended to “spend a lot of time” in Iowa this election cycle, bringing his bus, plastered with graphic images next to faces of prominent Democrats, to various campaign events around the state. The trip this week, he said, was the first time he brought this bus through Iowa.

Terry's record is long and distinguished. To cite just one episode, in 1991, Terry and OR declared a "Summer of Mercy" in Wichita and it laid siege to a clinic run by Dr. George Tiller. From The New York Times:

On at least one front, they found what they were looking for. Wichita has one of the few clinics in the country where women can get an abortion in the final three months of pregnancy. The one-story clinic, Women's Health Care Services, run by Dr. George R. Tiller, has become the lightning rod for the battle. It is here that women from all over the country come for abortions that few other physicians will perform. Inside the wood-paneled clinic hangs a map of North America, covered, like ants on a sidewalk, with yellow, red, blue and white pins, representing the visits of women from all 50 states and most of the Canadian provinces.

Clinic officials say that of the 2,000 abortions performed here each year, a small number, about 10 or 12, are for women in the third trimester, and they are usually prompted by severe fetal abnormalities or life-threatening risks to themselves. About 35 percent are performed on women in their second trimester, the remainder in the first.

Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis - Getty Images

What goes on inside the clinic has set off gut-level emotions. Demonstrators stand on both sides of bustling Kellogg Street, holding signs that say, "Babies Killed Here" and "Tiller's Slaughter House," waving to the drivers of Mack trucks and minivans that honk their horns in support as they pass. At times it has taken 40 police officers, some on horseback, to keep the clinic's doors open. And even then, John Cowles, Dr. Tiller's lawyer said, "protesters shoved their way through and crawled beneath them."

Eighteen years later, of course, the Summer of Mercy finally ended when Scott Roeder murdered Tiller in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church. Randall Terry, of course, was quite saddened that the unfortunate doctor was now burning in hell but, hey, that's the way it goes:

"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

Now, he's back. Lotsa luck, Mayor Pete.

Photo credit: Scott Olson - Getty Images

And what would a Very Special Episode of We Love The '80s be without a cameo from our favorite arms-peddling, terrorist-enabling grifter, Ollie North? Seems Ollie's tenure as president of the National Rifle Association has been marked by his irresistible impulse to set up sub rosa relationships that eventually collapse entirely. This partly has resulted in the NRA's suing its own TV network. From the NYT:

The National Rifle Association sued one of its largest and most enduring contractors late last week and raised concerns about the contractor’s relationship to the association’s own president, Oliver North, in a stunning breach within the normally buttoned-up organization. The suit was filed late Friday by the N.R.A. in Virginia, where it is based, against Ackerman McQueen, the Oklahoma ad firm that operates NRATV, the group’s incendiary online media arm. The suit asserts that Ackerman has concealed details from the N.R.A. about how the company is spending the roughly $40 million that it and its affiliates receive annually from the association. The suit creates uncertainty about Mr. North’s future at the organization. And it leaves the future of NRATV in doubt, given the new acrimony in the Ackerman relationship.

Acrimony, you say! Pistols at dawn!

The complaint details a peculiar standoff with Ackerman over Mr. North, who took over as president last year. The N.R.A. claims it was aware that Mr. North had a contract to act as the host of a web series for Ackerman, but that Ackerman has refused to provide a copy of the contract for nearly six months. Additionally, Mr. North’s counsel told the N.R.A. that “he could only disclose a copy of the contract” if Ackerman said he could, the suit says. Subsequently, Ackerman allowed the N.R.A.’s general counsel to view the contract but not keep a copy; the viewing added to N.R.A. concerns that it had not previously received an accurate summary of the document. The association was also concerned that Mr. North’s relationship to Ackerman could “supersede his duties to the N.R.A.” A standoff persists over additional details about the relationship, according to the complaint.

There's never an oligarch around when you need one. Those cats know how to settle contract disputes. And if you want to know how conservative Republicanism came to its current pass, look at the fact these these pestilential figures, and so many others, were allowed to thrive for so many years within its big, if plague-ridden, tent.

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