Destiny. Can it be changed?
After last Saturday’s Republican debate in South Carolina, this seems to be the only question worth considering.
The day before, on Friday last, we wrote about the dawning realization for the Democrats that they were going to be unable to vote FOR anyone. What choice they had was to vote for the continuation of a national stature, a national image based on what had once been reality. And in which Americans believed.
Without a reasonable, non-partisan Supreme Court, our country was fated to become another banana republic. Democrats would have to vote Democratic simply to keep the Court from turning conservative should a Justice retire or die.
The following day Justice Antonin Scalia did die. And what followed was an astonishing embarrassment of behavior, promises, jabs and jousts in foreign languages. The debate that night was the single worst melt-down in presidential politics in sixty-five years.
We were tempted throughout to turn off the television and scream “A pox on both your houses!” We didn’t.
No moderated session was ever so out of control. Eventually it became impossible even to understand what the candidates were hurling at each other because they were all throwing bull at the same time and at the same volume. If the candidates were used to speaking in sound-bites, we as an audience had to learn to listen in sound-bites, because that was all that were getting through.
As the lovely music under all this was Senator Mitch McConnell’s instantaneous “No!” The Republicans, to a man, the party of strict constitutionalism which had just lost its most effective weapon with the death of Scalia, lined up directly against the ghost of that jurist. McConnell’s excuse was that “the American people should have a say in who the next Supreme Court justice is.”
Simply, he and his crew wanted to withhold the nomination and confirmation process until after the November election when, if there were any Republican God above, the new Republican president would be able to pick a man or woman absolutely suitable to the Republicans, the rest of the country be damned.
Now, of course, the US Constitution declares firmly and unequivocably that the president has an obligation to replace a seat on the court in a judicious and speedy manner. McConnell’s interpretation was the diametric opposite of what Scalia would have wished.
The fire was lit under the debate. Just what it needed.
With only six candidates before the cameras, one would have hoped for a substantive debate about issues and directions. What we got was Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio challenging each other to speak proper Spanish.
We got Donald Trump shouting that every word Cruz uttered was a lie. (True enough.)
We got a rise from Jeb Bush, who seemed to be performing better than before, but the polls of today (2/16/16) demonstrate no progress in his campaign, even with his brother, mother, father, cousins, nieces and nephews standing up strongly for him.
Ben Carson rose to the challenge and did a credible job staying both in the mix and above it.
John Kasich, bless his heart, tried to defuse. It did him no good.
At the end of the evening, viewers (ourselves among them) realized that not one of those men on that stage in South Carolina had the tact, discipline, intelligence, and wisdom for one moment to even pretend to be president.
(Suffice it to say, the Democrats want President Obama to nominate a Supreme Court candidate immediately, as the Constitution demands.)
Can we all start over? Can a white knight (no racial overtone intended, it’s a cliché) step out of the past, or future, out of the mists of America’s desire to stay America and save this party? Or does this party more than any other in years deserve to explode and die?
Today we are grateful for only one thing: there will be no more full-scale Republican debates before South Carolina goes to the polls. Everyone down there is now on his or her own.
Can South Carolina, single-handedly, rescue the American dream that includes men and women of all kinds, sorts, colors, and right our sinking ship of state?
We had all better hope so.