Thursday, June 18, 2009

“Elections have consequences”

The headline quote was uttered by our former president, George W. Bush, and provides living proof of what my father used to say, that a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

The aphorism, loosely translated, means that even the intellectually challenged stumble onto the truth every so often. Say what you want about our former president, but it's safe to say that no one would ever catch him running a Mensa meeting.

Yet, his statement about elections having consequences, spoken just after the 2004 election, is a valid one. It means that, following elections, the winners get to govern as they see fit.

You would think that after having been in power for 20 of the last 28 years, Republicans would understand that concept, but they seem to be operating under a premise that the events of last November didn't happen.

How else to explain their intractability on any number of issues, from health care to the budget to fixing the nation's fiscal mess? Playing the role of loyal opposition is one thing; Democrats have done that for most of the last 30 years. But Republicans have taken this to what feels like an unhealthy extreme, and to the contrary of what the American public wanted, as evidenced by their granting control of the Executive and Legislative branches last fall.

Take the Supreme Court, for instance. It was ludicrous for Republicans to think that Barack Obama, the first truly progressive president this nation has had since FDR, would use his first nomination to the highest court in the land to select someone from the right. Obama was always going to take someone who, if not a complete liberal, certainly was left of center, just as Bush 43 went rightward, in the same manner as his father, Bush 41, and Ronald Reagan, all tapped conservatives.

The Republicans, who now have placed seven of the nine current Supremes, have attacked Obama's nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, saying, among other things, that she will bring her personal feelings, life observations and experiences to the bench. Are they kidding? Of course she will. She wouldn't be human if she didn't. Are we really expected to believe that the majority – all conservatives -- didn't bring their views to Thursday's ruling that convicts don't have the right to obtain DNA to prove their innocence?

Those five justices (Chief Justice Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Thomas and Scalia) are there, in large part, because Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush appointed them to represent a particular point of view that was expressed in the elections that selected them. And now, barring something unforeseen, the election of Barack Obama will have a consequence as well.

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