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February 18, 2016

Light in the Week’s Darkness

Patricia A. Kelly

Within three hours of the announcement of the death of renowned Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, politicians, fight or flight hormones fully engaged, were ready, not to lament his death, or to honor him for his incredible career, but to fire another weapon in their ongoing political battle.


Justice Scalia deserves better. A brilliant jurist, dedicated appropriately to upholding the Constitution, including the original intent of the writers, he will be greatly missed and long remembered. His writings, and his unique thought processes, will go down in history.


That didn’t stop many, after a brief nod to our great loss, from continuing on in their hateful, “vote for me” rampages.


The first Tweet, by 6 p.m., came from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., TX), followed only an hour later by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., FL) and, tied for third, Dr. Ben Carson and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY). All jumped right on the bandwagon with statements asserting that President Barack Obama must not nominate a new Supreme Court justice.


Donald Trump chimed in with his usual off the cuff, “I would want to try and nominate a justice….” He said stopping a nomination is up to Mitch McConnell. “It’s called, “Delay, delay, delay.”


John Kasich bemoaned the politicization of this event, and both he and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) opined that they would want the president to delay an appointment until after the next election.


Mitch McConnell’s hasty Tweet assured the world the Republican Senate would not hold required hearings on any candidate nominated by the president.


Only Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., WI) had the decency to send an apolitical and appropriate message on Saturday, expressing his grief and admiration for Justice Scalia, and, of course, his statement was little noted in the news. Not interesting enough, I guess, compared to helping candidates keep us fighting and afraid. That keeps viewership up, and those advertising dollars coming in.


President Obama, again within hours, stated he would be nominating a replacement justice, “in due time.” Not much mourning time for the president, either.


Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., VT) jumped right into the fray, asserting that it would be unconscionable for Republicans to block a nomination.


Ms. Clinton’s heaping of blame on Republicans bodes well for future cooperation with them if she is elected, don’t you think?


Finally, after a little thought, Gov. Jeb Bush, and only he, came up with the right answer. The president has every right to nominate a new justice. Congress has every right to refuse to approve any candidate. Period, end of story, no matter that, for decades, no nomination this late in a president’s second term has been approved.


Next time Senator McConnell feels the urge to Tweet, he should sleep on it. His promise not to hold hearings on any nominee of our current president was one of the most stupid political moves I have seen in a long time. All it did was give ammunition to the Democratic side in the presidential race, and make Republicans appear as obstructionists.


His assertion was as foolish as President Obama’s public statements about what Americans would not do in the fight against terrorism, giving our enemies free battle planning assistance. Remember, guys, your poker cards are supposed to be upside down.


Republicans can stop a nomination with minimal difficulty, if appropriate. No public announcement is necessary.


Speaker Ryan, after a decent interval, did provide some justification for congressional refusal to approve a nomination in President Obama’s remaining months. It would be to defend the constitutionally mandated balance of power in our government. Representative Ryan asserts that President Obama has nominated two justices who have contributed to the crippling of the legislative branch of government, and should not be allowed of a third. That makes perfect sense.


Thank you, Speaker Ryan, Governor Bush and Governor Kasich, for the moments of light you have cast upon this week’s darkness.


Creating fear and anger, as President George W. Bush said on Monday, does not solve problems. That fear, that anger, all those lies and distortions, both speak to the character of our presidential candidates, and inflame our people, interfering with our ability to make good voting choices.


It’s a real disservice to us all, because solutions, to our overspending, our war against terrorism, our domestic problems, and our dysfunctional Congress, are really what we need.


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