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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If Souter would stay on a while

he'd spare the nation something as bad as a swine flu pandemic. He could put off the spectacle of watching the Republicans get even more frenzied in their hate fests than they are from Obama.

In fact, I was among some people who actually drafted a letter a month or so ago asking Souter to stay on. As soon as he announced his retirement and people began to speculate who would replace him, the Republicans announced that they would obstruct and malign the nominee, no matter who it was. As names were suggested, the Republicans did the one thing that they do with any effect: they started their defamation machinery. One thing our culture and country does not need at this time is any more of the mean and nasty degradation that is the only Republican contribution to our country. An honest and thoughtful disagreement would be like opening the windows in a diarrhea ward. But the GOP seems to have outlawed anything that remotely resembles intelligence and good purpose.

Prominent among the names brought up as a Supreme Court nominee was Sonia Sotomayor. Talking Points Memo has traced a whispering campaign against her that emerged in an article by The New Republic's legal correspondent, Jeffrey Rosen. Some anonymous lawyers and clerks approached him and said that she lacked "the intellectual heft and good manners" to sit on the Supreme Court. The conservative hate machine seized upon the article and The National Review's Mark Hemingway reduced the article to the conclusion that Sotomayor was "dumb and obnoxious." Rosen answered back with the statement that Sotomayor was an able and qualified candidate, at least as much as some of the sitting justices on the Supreme Court.

The charges that Sotomayor, who has a record of the highest intellectual achievements, is mentally challenged found its way to the nation's intellectual barrens when Mt. Blogmore's Kevin Woster said he had characterized Sotomayor as moderate on public radio but found that his assessment, derived from Associated Press stories, had been superseded by one advanced by the Mother Superior of Unmerciful Malice from NSU who determined her to be liberal. You can't go against GOP Gospel. The charge of mental deficiency got picked up by a commenter, Aldo, on Mt. Blogmore who said he was concerned about a nominee who is described as “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,” Of course, Aldo made no effort to determine who made that characterization or what it is based on. In the South Dakota moral barrens, hatefulness and defamation need no justification.

It would be so nice if Justice Souter could be persuaded to stay on for another year. Even though Obama was elected to lift the nation out of the morass of mindless hate and abuse into which the nation has fallen, the communicative apparatus has been so damaged as to be unusable for any profitable discussion. A friend of mine recently retired as a professor and provost of a university program in communications says the state of communications in the U.S. has prompted him to live with one foot in Canada. He planned to maintain a summer residence during his retirement in the Detroit Lakes area. But after spending a year on a project that examined the state of the media on the upper plains, he sold his property and is looking at places in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. He says you can't live, physically or intellectual, in a poisoned environment. He is among those who believe that the intellectual failures in America are insurmountable.

So, we head into a Supreme Court confirmation process that is certain to erupt in a profusion of malice and falsehood.

I for one think that Sonia Sotomayor should be carefully examined and questioned. Just as Alito and Roberts were. If documentable deficiencies in her record could be found, they should be brought to light. But we do not need another inquisition borne of racial and sexual hatred carried out through falsehood and defamation.

I have my doubts that the country can surmount the politics of malice. Justice Souter, it would have been nice for a year of respite on the Supreme Court front from the defamations that have become our national anthem for some people.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States