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Our Views: Senate showbiz - Supremely dysfunctional train wreck

October 3, 2018

If there were a TV game show called “Who wants to be a Supreme Court nominee?” it would be the loser who advanced to the title role.

It would be a ratings success for a very short while until no more willing contestants could be found.

Sort of like the real life showbiz out of DC. The Senate Judiciary Committee took what should be a rigorous but fair and honest examination of a nominee to the high court and turned it into a tawdry sideshow, an embarrassment to our country.

Brett Kavanaugh, and by extension the role of the judiciary as the third branch of government, has been reduced to little more than the tip of two political spears. The committee failed Kavanaugh. It failed the process, which should instill respect and confidence in the public that sends its elected representatives to Washington. It failed America, fueling division in a country where government can only succeed by consensus.

Then it got worse, with an FBI probe that will likely offer enough tidbits of new — if anything can be new after 35 years — morsels that can be turned into more delalys.

Senate Republicans are doing all they can to be the grownups, to move the nomination without the appearance of ramming it through the Senate. Yet saying they’re handling this process better than Democrats isn’t saying much.

The blatantly transparent political agenda were on full display, move overtly even than the public has come to expect from self-obsessed politicians. It was depressing and sobering to witness the high court, a court that carries no sword and must rely on the full faith of this nation’s citizens, be treated by Senators as almost another political body.

Kavanaugh jumped on board with the politics, too, but only when his and his family’s backs were to the wall. Stunningly, so did Justice Ruth Bader Ginburgg, who offered support for the MeToo movement just before Kavanaugh accuser Christine Ford testified. Ginsbug had no call to do so and must surely recognize her action undercut the integrity of any future court decisions relating to the topic.

The hearing was riveting theater and a demoralizing glimpse into the sad state of the U.S. government. It drew the viewers just as a pay-per-view midair jetliner crash would rake in the eyeballs.

It showed in gritty detail why nothing gets done in Congress. It overwhelmed the country with the affirmation that high-minded ideals and guiding principles mean nothing compared to the need for vanity and re-election. Everyone knew that, but still….

If nothing else, it should finally make clear to many why Donald Trump is in the White House. Whatever is there now is a mess and needs change.

This great American experiment in self-governance is almost two and a half centuries old. Its success still isn’t guaranteed, relying on the engagement of every citizen to move government in the way it should go.

Or to stop it when it goes the wrong way, as was just on display.

Local, county and state government is closer to the people and thus is more easily held to account, but the task of citizen oversight is never ending. When government gets too big, too remote, the end result can and will likely be the self-serving dysfunctional government on full display in the Kavanaugh hearings.

This country is better than that. Fortunately, the country is the people, and they can send their message directly to the dysfunctional big government and by demanding that more local, smaller governments show through their actions that government can function and get things done while still abiding honesty and respect.

— Today’s News-Herald

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