More Republican candidates for President have meant more political commercials in Charleston, sometimes running right after each other in no particular order. Sometimes the super-PACs pile on Marco Rubio with back to back commercials before the cut away to regular programming. The commercials start at 5 am and run to late night. They are amateurishly produced; many powerpoint presentations or homemade youtube videos are better. They all say no. Some say yes. They embolden a name. Yes, no; it’s hard to tell. Rubio is linked to foreign policy, yes and no; Cruz is linked to the Senate, yes and no; and Trump is linked to himself, no. He has no need to buy time for yes; it lights up the networks that often use him in their own lead-in promotions for their round tables of talk and clips.
Not one commercial addresses issues specific to South Carolina: the state ranks last in infant deaths and in women’s murders (largely domestic violence); it is near the top of deaths by heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes; it is near the bottom in education. One poll this week reported that 10% of those polled believed that whites are a superior race (the number goes up to 16% for Trump supporters!).
Discussion of alternate energy, fisheries, development, even sewer and water systems for families on the sea islands are ignored for a limited but big screen agenda of blame. Muslims, immigrants. Budgets and debt have no momentum. Any image of Obama is red meat. It is celebrity week. Politics is secondary although the vote is paramount.
It feels like a eighth grade student council election not a national campaign for someone to talk to Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel or Dina Rousseff; to Xi Jinping or Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on behalf of US and global interests–or someone who can speak to Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, a venture capitalist in over his head, whose acts are slowly killing the city Flint and its residents through lead poisoning its water supply.
Art Buchwald was a satirist and political writer who understood the power of humor to expand ideas and expose an inner truth through insights of incongruity that were funny at the same time. The short essay that follows is in that tradition of levity and truth.
So did anyone publish this yet, like the New York Times? This is well written, I hope one of the major newspapers picks it up.
Sent from my Boost Mobile Phone.
——– Original message ——–
Date:02/15/2016 11:01 AM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: Op-Ed: Why The President Should Nominate Himself
A grand surprise of Barack Obama’s presidency has been his good cheer: his quiet side involves a complex series of ideas and associations that find humor in the horrible. He sees the incongruities and contradictions in America’s democracy and public ideas as well as anyone; its outrageous nuances with which he has seven years experience. He has said he is itching to get out, but has more to do.
The death of Justice Antonin Scalia presents a remarkable occasion to lift from the loss smiles of passionate surprise if the President nominates himself for the unexpected open seat! Its striking incongruity makes brilliant sense and has his trademark touch of humor, both self-effacing and ambitious, inclusive of others, a step on the crystal stair gently challenging the status quo. First, he could continue as President while the Senate decides to vet a Harvard law review editor, Constitutional law professor, twice elected President by more than five million popular votes–in political terms, a centrist whose views have been validated by two national referendums against different opponents–a man similar to the Supreme Court’s first Chief Justice, South Carolina’s John Rutledge, a compromise choice out of favor with both sides of the then prevailing political wisdom.
It is well known the President’s terms have produced much disappointment on the left and great angst on the right. In times of division, this balance of dislikes has been the middle ground of our American politics. Abraham Lincoln’s nomination engulfed the conflicts between Whigs and Republicans. The southern Democrat Lyndon Johnson broke faith with his party’s entrenched racist legacy to move the nation toward racial equality. Chief Justice Earl Warren, a California Republican who was a tough law and order attorney general nominated by President Eisenhower guided America through its greatest period of social change.
In contrast, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, an African-American brought up in the segregated South, a beneficiary of affirmative action, with less than two years experience on the bench before his appointment to the Supreme Court, has shown little affinity for the traditional legal interpretations of liberals or in expanding the American promise. And far from the “national disgrace” that Thomas declared his own confirmation hearings to be, President Obama’s nomination offers Republicans a chance at reconciliation.
Apart from politics, President Obama would bring a remarkable wealth of experience to the court. Internationally and domestically, he has in-depth knowledge about judicial affairs and how the court’s decisions affect not only those seeking redress but the lives of millions of others. He understands the dynamics of an imperfect world. He listens, questions, evolves, and has been tested in political winds, his government having been closed for sixteen days. Even to his enemies (albeit they would deny it!), he is an opponent they can live with–proven in data they ignore: lowered deficits, steady employment growth, record profits, strong equity markets, record deportations, replacing bellicose quarrels with diplomacy, favoring soft power and gradual progress and consensus. His view of the world is not theory, but tempered by his first hand, close up look. A seat on the court would draw upon this vast expertise while walling off his weakest decisions, on foreign affairs.
Joe Biden would be joyful and more than ready to take over the Presidency for the last eleven months. If not confirmed, the President would feel no loss of his legacy. It would only be one more marker of Republican rejection of the common sense views of one the most popular–and unpopular–Presidents of our times. One whose Zen-like wit has kept him engaged and reflective about the heavy responsibility of governing and the entangled yearnings of humanity. His inner confidence is not easily deceived by convenient fallacies. If Republicans reject him, it would again show their passing lip service to governing as they pursue the prize of absolute power.
And this last dispatch, from my comment in the digital edition of today’s New York Times, on the op-ed article, “Donald Trump’s Secret? Channeling Andrew Jackson.”
Perhaps Donald Trump is more like the original fire eater, South Carolina’s Robert Barnwell Rhett, whose vitriol, charisma, and passions of hate led the state into secession, breaking the Union. So intemperate and obstinate in his views, the state refused to elect Rhett to the Confederate senate, fearing his dysfunction would affect the body, blocking reason and logic from solving the significant problems the new Confederation faced in waging a multi-state war with an empty treasury, bonded only by their “no” to legislative actions that had not yet been passed!
We see the “no” today when 16% of Trump supporters in SC (10% of all polled!) openly say for the public record that whites are a superior race. We see the same “no” in the advance refusal to consider the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court before he or she is offered in name.
The parallels in slavery to white supremacy are obvious, indisputable in a state where a young adult entered a historic church to kill nine of its members, after having prayed with them. We see the “no” in comments that said black Christians should have been suspicious of his attendance rather than welcoming, in the remarks of a SC legislator who blamed the victims for not putting up a fight–in Jeb getting wrong the name of the church (calling it Bethel yesterday).
We find the “no” alive in the robo-calls of white supremacists for Trump in Iowa. He may be more Robert B. Rhett than Andrew Jackson.
~~Is there any other white Southern demagogue who you’d compare Trump to for cheap political points? Tillman, Bilbo, Wallace?
“Cheap?” Humm. When does white supremacy becomes “expensive” and to whom? Only the stupid fail to know Wallace openly recanted his views and practices–he then turned to appoint more blacks to official positions in government and commissions than any other governor, after traveling to churches throughout Alabama to make public confession and amends for his racism and his prior abuse of power against equality in defense of supremacy and segregation.
When Trump (who routinely expels Muslims from his events!) told an all-white crowd in Alabama to “get him out,” and a mob set on a black protester who was knocked to the ground, punched, and kicked in the face; Tillman, who once carried in his front pants pocket the severed, cut-off finger of a black lynched by a SC mob, offers a comparison that seems priceless.
And where are you on the question of “whites as a superior race”? Are you here or “there”?
To sane readers, don’t be deflected; this note, my description of Trump’s tactics, from previous Times comments.
Trump offers in his xenophobic, misogynistic world view of glad, sad, weak, and bad “bourgeois influence” to voters; that through him, their voices will be heard in the mainstream not in the margins.
He target twin foes: the elite class and working class families of color; his nativist rhetoric is vested in the displacement of others. Trump is not a rejection of the GOP establishment, but an outgrowth of its changing form.
Remember empty wagons lack substance!
~~We Virginians who think the Old Dominion made its worst-ever mistake in 1861 love to look down our once-patrician, gin-blossomed Jeffersonian noses at you South Carolinians for starting the mess. I concede that our local fire-eater, Edmund Ruffin (Google him to see the face of fanaticism), did pull the first lanyard to attack Fort Sumter.
Thus I’m really impressed by South Carolina’s belief that Rhett was “So intemperate and obstinate in his views, the state refused to elect [him] to the Confederate senate.”
That’s good news of a sort. Perhaps the Old South can sometimes come to its senses, after trying everything else first. Trump is a disaster waiting to happen, though I consider Cruz an even greater evil, a theocrat right out of Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. Time and demographics may finally wrench we Southerners into sense and the current century. I hope.
This is today’s American conversation, of its politics and a standard fare of denials and stinging insults to draw attention away from what matters. Black lives. Flint. Women’s rights. Family income. Environmental justice. Common sense.