Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oracles, Second Opinions, and The Separation of Powers ii

.. The real problem with Leslie
was that .. the basic thrust of
his metabolism had been slowed to
the cautions and circumambulations
of the law's delays .. he did not
know how to deliver justice at the
pace of war.

The extract is from a novel set primarily in battle conditions in World War I, written by the retired President of Amherst College only a few years ago. Sometimes a phrase stays with you, and this one seems to be the title of the ballad of our time, he did not know how to deliver justice at the pace of war. A wholly normal and more than tolerable circumspection is precisely what the radical right have now exploited to the virtual extinguishment of genuine popular government in the United States, such that they have rendered obsolete even the checks and balances of an independent Executive branch and the competition of another Party. They are the only faction on the field which is aware of the pace with which policy must be advanced.

Readers are urged to study a contribution by Timothy Snyder to the blog of The New York Review of Books for this date; they will remember references here to his war history, Bloodlands. Snyder's As Ohio Goes is a lament with plenty of cause, with rich and sickening explanation for the war footing on which the Tea Party places the prospect for a just nation in these borders, as dervish scavengers of the leavings of our oligarchs. He reminds one, implicitly but forcefully, that inequality is so extreme, injustice so structural in this nation because a Party was determined to see that it is. That its lower orders are now entrenching that achievement is squarely in the sharecropper tradition, with gay men arraigned to 'rouse the ghost of Jim Crow.

I reluctantly concur in the judgment of the millions of honest voters, that the wallflower we put in the Presidency against both castes of this single menace simply can not and will not hold. Yet it's plain that his inadequacy only masks an imbalance in the Separation of Powers, and that it is pointless to shame him from his tent. The contest for the House of Representatives is, rather, the unconditional priority for containing the damage of this war. 

Who'd have thought, Mr Hamilton, that the lower house would prove to be the Somme of sanity, in a cataclysm inflicted by your gods, themselves?

Peter Pouncey
Rules for Old Men Waiting
  A Novel
Random House, 2005©

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