It’s a common experience. Our minds get stuck on something or other. But this one is kind of weird: I’ve been bugged of late by all our language lies, concerned by all those common expressions that come up in conversations everywhere and are either pointless fillers or really reflect an opposite meaning. This is what happens to me when there’s little else to discuss. And we are in a relative lull right now. President Donald Trump is between obscene outrages. Or is it that his tweet storms have lost their facility to disgust us? Even his destruction of world trade fails to cause the widespread panic it should.
Has it happened? Have we finally turned numb to the hateful crass acts of Trump and his barbarians? Has their boorishness left us bored? I mean, what’s been in the news of late? The hot dog eating contests, that’s what. One could argue that our political developments these days are normally as gross as hot dog eating contests, but usually they, uh, have more meat on them. But let’s face it, people: We’ve been in a summer hiatus — post-child snatching, pre-Supreme Court nominee.
Once the Trumpster announces his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, we will once again hear and read the kind of vacuous rhetoric — no, let’s call it what it is, dishonesty — that we haven’t witnessed since, well, the last Supreme Court battle in the United States Senate. We can start with POTUS, who promises, “I think you’ll be very impressed.” What? He’s going to select someone he doesn’t think will be impressive?
Of course, the Senate Democrats will not be dazzled with anyone he chooses, although they will promise to make their advise-and-consent decisions on the nominee’s merits, and not politics. Yeah, right. Meanwhile, the one anointed by Trump will be getting a crash course in obfuscation, clouding over the unstated commitment to reverse generations of progress. Translate that to “someone who pleases his base.” Get set for senators to blather ad nauseam about “stare decisis.” By now we all know that’s Latin for “to stand by things decided,” meaning a reverence for previous rulings by the Supremes. The term is really just camouflage for Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to an abortion decided by the high court in 1973.
Forty-five years later, the controversy rages, and it will be uppermost on everyone’s mind as the grilling begins. Expect an answer something like “I have a healthy respect for stare decisis but will determine each ruling based on the merits of the case.” That will successfully gloss over the fact that any choice of Trump’s, or the ultraconservatives who supplied him with their list, in fact zealously oppose abortion and will look for any and all opportunities to weaken or even reverse Roe — precedent be damned.
Frankly, the entire clash over abortion has always been befuddled by its jargon. Anti-abortion forces call themselves “pro-life.” Never mind that they oppose many other policies that would protect the lives of America’s vulnerable. On the other side, you have the “pro-choice” advocates. Except that what we really have here is an argument of how we define life, whether it begins when we are born or not. We can’t morally make such a “choice” until we decide as a society when life begins.
Even the emphasis on abortion deflects from what will be the complete impact of the wannabe justice, who will sit for a lifetime and can help decide how many civil rights an American has, how healthy we can be, how lightly regulated the profit-at-any-cost corporations will be, how they can treat or mistreat their workers, etc.
We can expect endless deceptive sound bites until this president and this Senate put another well-disguised reactionary on the court. But at least we will have gone through our rituals, pretending, as the inscription over the Supreme Court building reads, that there is “Equal Justice Under Law.” That’s empty rhetoric, too..