Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Success," the Supreme Court, and the Blame Game

Three things have been occupying my thoughts: (1) what does it mean to be successful, (2) where is the Supreme Court now that it is desperately needed, and (3) who is to blame when things go wrong.

I note that lately it is commonly stated that Mitt Romney was a successful businessman. The implication is, I guess, that if he was a successful businessman that must have something to do with his potential to be a successful President. Similarly, some might argue he was a successful Governor. But what does being successful mean? After all one might well argue that Al Capone was successful (actually quite successful until he was finally brought down because of income tax problems). I can’t see why being successful, in and of itself, proves much of anything. What you are successful at doing would seem to me to be the crucial factor. Romney was successful at making a profit for himself, Bain Capital, and his friends, remarkably successful. But does success at making a profit (especially given the means employed) have anything to do with whether or not he would be a good President? I don’t think so, and the argument that he was successful seems to me useless. Success is one of those words that obviously requires a context as well as a time limit. Hitler was remarkably successful, for a time, as was Stalin. Also, success is a relative term, success as compared with what? I suggest that President Obama has been a successful President, but of course Republicans think otherwise. Besides, someone can be successful at one thing and terrible at others. In short, being successful is not a good description of anyone and can mean nothing at all.

And where is the Supreme Court now that it is desperately needed? Are they remorseful over having made one of the worst decisions ever handed down by the Court? It has become very quickly perfectly obvious that this decision about corporate personhood, money as speech, has had absolutely disastrous results (just as President Obama predicted and Justice Alito shook his head “no.”) It is so disastrous, and so obviously so, you might think they would voluntarily decide to revisit it, admit they made a terrible mistake, and either reverse or seriously modify it. They have a chance now because of a case brought to the Court by the State of Montana. But don’t bet any money they will change things. Remember, this is the same Court that awarded the Presidency to George W. Bush in a decision so unconstitutional, illegal, and illogical that even they announced it should never be used as a precedent (but this didn’t keep them from doing it). And it would seem that virtually every decision they have rendered since then has favored business interests. It would seem obvious by now that an institution that is supposed to be non-partisan, objective, and supposed to serve the interest s of the people, has morphed into something quite different. They obviously have the interests of the one percent much more in mind than those interests of the 99%. So far they have indicated neither shame nor guilt over what they have done, nor, I think, will they be willing to admit they made an egregious mistake. Two or three of them are so shameless they should be impeached forthwith, but of course they won’t be.

There is nothing new about blaming the President for the woes of the country, but realistically, does this make much sense? President Obama, for example, is now being blamed for most everything, especially for not creating jobs fast enough. But it is obvious he is not truly to blame for this as Congress has blocked his every attempt to create them. Similarly, he is blamed for not closing Guantanamo, but, again, he was prevented from doing so by Congress. Presidents are always blamed for what goes on simply because they presumably have the power to do otherwise, but in reality they don’t. In the current situation blaming Obama goes beyond the usual practice if for no other reason than Republicans claimed from the beginning they would make it their number one priority to make him a one term President, and with that in mind they not only block his every effort to improve things but, hypocritically, then blame him for their own shortcomings. It is possible they might even get away with this ridiculous scam. If they don’t it will be because Romney is such an awful candidate even independent voters can’t stomach him (along with some members of his own party). Interestingly enough I doubt that Romney will be blamed for the apparent death wish of the Republican Party.

“He believed in his own astuteness. Though he had both esteem and admiration for the sensibility of the human race, he had little respect for their intelligence: man has always found it easier to sacrifice his life than to learn the multiplication tables.”

The character Ashenden in the short story “Mr. Harrington’s Washing,” by W. Somerset Maugham.

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