I'm at a loss. This year's primaries/R. Crum cartoon (could even he have dreamed it up?) depress me and leave me longing for the statesmanship and class of Johnson (L.B., not Andrew) and Nixon in their most unguarded moments. We've lost a Supreme Court Justice and I don't trust the current President or any of the candidates to pick a replacement who won't be some kind of disaster.* The economy is still nasty and a large HVAC manufacturer here in Indianapolis has, after lavish grants, tax breaks, a personal massage† from at least one Governor and other enticements, decided to absquatulate for Mexico, where the bribes are cheaper, nobody minds a little lead or carbon tet, you can beat up the workforce and pee right in the river. The United States has priced itself out of the manufacturing business; this is not a new story.
There's much to lampoon in all that (and I just did) but none of it really moves me. The United States is on the way down. Oh, it's a long, slow slide. Oh, some Cato -- possibly Cato, a name they did not choose lightly -- can stand up and decry it. But what are Mr. Trump, Sen. Sanders, Ms. Clinton, Sens. Cruz, Rubio and the rest‡ if not prospective Caesars, all of them seemingly unaware of the limits on Presidential powers, painting rosy pictures of a new Golden Age of Greatness, Fairness, Moral Values, Sharing, Inclusion and Strong Fences?
The peak has passed. It was a great peak, and the decline will have its times of greatness, too, but it is nevertheless a decline. Roman civilization took centuries to fade away; Empire outlasted Republic by up to a thousand years, depending on how you score it. We can expect similar and there is no shame in fighting a valiant delaying action. Just don't kid yourself. In the glory days, this country had no need to question its greatness (whatever that word means to you), and neither did its politicians. It was self-evident. Now they're kinda having to hunt. To qualify. To bluster. Don't be fooled; Caesar lusts for a throne, and after him, there are plenty more.
* I will take sides in the "Don't confirm!" debate, though: the Senate has the right and obligation to not consent to a choice they deem inadvisable. It's right there in the job description, just as it was in 2007, when the Dems didn't want a Republican President on the way out to pick a new Supreme Court Justice. Don't like it? Here's the amendment process, there's a pencil. Shaddup and start writing. Or just shut up.
† That's what they're calling it. Polite people do not inquire.
‡ "...here on Gilligan's Isle!" You know, Gilligan's Island is most people's mental model for the Federal Government, if you think about it. The President/Skipper, Veep/Gilligan, Thurston P. Howell/Senate, Lovey Howell/Supreme Court, Ginger and Mary Ann/House and The Professor is every Cabinet Bureau and Agency. And the Feds are every bit as mature, organized and effective as those seven stranded castaways, too -- except they command real guns.
6 months ago