My President’s Day Nightmare

Washington's_Inauguration
“I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States. Except, of course, in the last quarter of my term.” – George Washington, 1789 (image credit)

Apropos of absolutely nothing but the fact that today is President’s Day, I was reminded earlier that it’s time for my annual perusal of Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

During this year’s reading – again, for reasons entirely unrelated to any events that might have transpired over the weekend – a couple of clauses really grabbed me:

Section 1: [The President of the United States] shall hold his office during the term of four years …

Section 2: … and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court …

Straightforward enough, right? The president gets to be president for four years at a time, and it’s the president’s job to appoint new Supreme Court justices. Two simple but all-important mandates from the majestic scroll that governs this great republic.

But why did these clauses, in particular, stand out to me?

Well, I kinda lied about it having nothing to do the events of this past weekend. You see, despite my usual aversion to hard drugs, it seems that on Saturday evening I slipped into a feverish crack dream in which a sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court drove America insane.

In this dream, a pack of crazed, power-hungry horror clowns shrieked at the prospect of the sitting president nominating a new justice. He should wait, they snarled between gnaws of each other’s flesh-stripped clown bones, for one of them to take his place so they could fill the vacancy with their Dark Lord Pennywise.

Meanwhile, Senator Jowly McChickenjowls tried to convince America that Article II was little more than a flight of whimsy dreamed up in a sappy Aaron Sorkin drama. He claimed that executive power goes limp after three years, and vowed the Senate wouldn’t advise and consent to the president’s Netflix queue, let alone any judicial nominee he had the stones to field in an election year.

The argument went that only a mad, ruthless tyrant would seek to fill a high court vacancy before the people (no, not those people – some other people) had had their say. These opponents claimed that doing so would shatter a precious American tradition that had stood for millennia, and swore on the holy shrine of their sainted Spirit Father that the exact same transgression definitely hadn’t occurred 28 years earlier.

For his part, the tweedy Constitution-nerd of a president stubbornly refused to heed these concerns, ignoring, as usual, those who only asked that he relinquish all power, admit his election(s) had been a freak accident of history, and hurl himself into the fiery abyss. Instead, always the lame-ass stickler, he promptly announced his intent to keep on doing president stuff and comply with his Article II, Section 2 directive.

At this, the Senate’s Meathead Caucus – while confessing that none of them had ever actually gazed upon the Sacred Parchment (but promising they would totally get to it at some point) – howled that this outrageous power grab was SOOOOO not cool, and threatened to run President Poindexter’s court-packing shorts up the filibuster flagpole.

Yes, they were ready to risk a republic-torching constitutional crisis just to show that goody-goody buzzkill in the White House what’s what. Because patriotism.

Now it’s Monday, and what a relief that I’ve awoken to sweet, serene reality. No cynical hacks selectively voiding Article II clauses. No nakedly partisan attempts to diminish the president’s effective tenure. No IDGAF denial of the chief executive’s right to nominate Supreme Court justices. Because that’s the kind of insanity that can only be conjured in the fog of a psychedelic night terror.

Thankfully, we exist in a world where responsible Constitutional Conservatives are running the show – righteous guardians who would never subvert a single clause of our cherished founding document, or ever dream of shirking their own constitutional obligations.

So, reassured in the knowledge that Article II of the Constitution still stands, and that the unbridled fuckery of a constitutional showdown isn’t upon us, it’s time for me to go online for the first time since Saturday morning and see what news, if any, may have broken over the weekend.

Happy President’s Day.

 

 

 

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A Note to Bernie Fans Who Say They’ll Never Vote for Hillary

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Marching up Main Street in my hometown, Brattleboro, VT. (photo credit)

Dear fellow Bernie supporters:

Single-payer healthcare. Tuition-free college. A $15 minimum wage. A path to citizenship. Breaking up the big banks. Overturning Citizens United. Halting mass-incarceration and dismantling the prison-industrial complex. Rebuilding our infrastructure and revitalizing American industry. Getting aggressive on climate change.

These are just a few of the progressive g-spots worked so masterfully by Bernie Sanders. They’re what make him, for so many of us, an absolute dream of a presidential candidate. His message is a sweet serenade that gives us the deep-down quivers, pitching tender, irresistible woo to our idealistic hearts.

Bernie is our political soul mate. So why would we even think about giving it up for someone else?

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a shitnado of sheer, unmitigated lunacy swirling on the other side of the presidential race. This year’s slate of contenders for the Republican nomination is an unholy roster of unhinged, retrograde sociopaths ranging from “scary” to “HOLY FUCKING SHIT I’M MOVING TO A SURVIVAL BUNKER IN THE YUKON IF WE LET THIS MANIAC ANYWHERE NEAR THE NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES.” That this election might very well send one of these mendacious Tea Party dunces to the White House is utterly horrifying. This nation – this world – simply can’t afford it.

And yet, my fellow Berners, an alarming number of you have sworn that, should she emerge as the Democratic nominee, you will refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Indeed, there is polling that indicates 14% of Democrats would rather feed their children to rabid hyenas than cast a general-election ballot for Bernie’s top Democratic rival. And that’s scary, too.

To be clear, I’m a fervent Sanderista who’s as eager as anyone for a Bernie Revolution. And with our guy having fought Hillary to a draw in Iowa, and seemingly poised to walk away with New Hampshire tomorrow, I’m thrilled to see it may already be underway. I’ve been watching Bernie defy expectations for twenty-five years, and I know we can win this thing.

But if Bernie ultimately fails to secure the Democratic nomination, I’m going to vote for Hillary. Without hesitation.

Look. I get it. There are plenty of valid reasons to be wary of Clinton, Inc. Many of us were disgusted by the politics Hillary played against Obama in 2008. Many of us will never forgive her pro-Iraq War vote in 2002. And many of us are leery of all the cash she’s collected from her BFFs on Wall Street. And yes, next to Bernie – whose politics have been consistent for decades, and who proudly touts the socialist label despite its liabilities – Hillary comes across as one who would burn down Yellowstone if it would win her Ohio. So if her candidacy gives you pause, I totally understand.

And if, in the event of Hillary’s nomination, you just can’t bring yourself to support her – if you wanna tell Hillz to shove it, and teach Democratic elites a lesson in grassroots resolve – fine. I can’t ask you to defy the tug of your conscience.

But in heeding those conscientious whims, just remember that the resulting Republican administration will be one of climate-denying charlatans, will seek the immediate repeal of Obamacare, and will name something like seventeen justices to the Supreme Court.

And then consider: While the DNC is off learning its hard, four-year lesson, how many holy-shit warming thresholds will we cross? How many Americans will lose their health coverage and die for lack of care? And how long until Roe v. Wade goes the way of the Voting Rights Act?

The unbridled right-wing havoc we can expect when the Tea Party’s dimmest are running the West Wing seems an awfully steep price to pay just so you can flash an angry middle digit at Hillary. And you know who agrees with me? The B-man himself.

We all want Bernie to be our next president. But if the Democratic nomination isn’t in the cards for him, sticking it to HRC won’t do him any favors. Bernie will shift his support to Hillary, and will surely encourage us, his loyal followers, to back him up. Because he understands the unbelievably high stakes of this election. Because he knows that the alternative to a Democratic win is a piss-our-collective-pants disaster. Because he was right the other night when he said that even on their worst day, both he and Hillary are a hundred times better than any of the Republicans they might face.

In this election, Bernie Sanders stands as a totem for the unabashed liberal soul. Yet his politics don’t preclude him from supporting Hillary Clinton. If you’re a progressive who cannot, under any circumstances, bring yourself to do the same, so be it. But then you don’t get to claim Bernie as your political spirit animal.

Sincerely, your Bernie-buddy, Dan.

hillaryelliot
Hillary’s not all bad. She bought my husband’s book!

 

President Obama Endorses Marriage Equality

Please excuse the following outburst:

HOLY EFFING SHIT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JUST CAME OUT IN FAVOR OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE!!! SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP THIS IS EXCITING NEWS!!!

Thank you.

And, it’s about time.

I know, the position expressed by our president today is not unnuanced or without its caveats. He says he’s okay with the issue being decided state-by-state, a position scorned by most marriage-equality advocates. It’s tantamount to saying, “I personally support marriage equality, but I’m okay with individual states banning same-sex marriage if that’s what they want to do.” And that’s exactly what North Carolina did just yesterday in a crushing setback for marriage equality. Not exactly an affirming backdrop against which to endorse the state-by-state strategy.

However, as I’ve been saying for the past three and a half years, the LGBT community has never had a better friend in the White House. And that distinction is far from marginal. President Clinton signed DOMA and DADT into law. President Bush advocated a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and anti-gay-marriage sentiment played a significant role in his re-election. But president Obama has used his executive authority to roll back federal restrictions on, and extend federal benefits to LGBT Americans. His Justice Department no longer defends DOMA in the courts, and DADT met its demise on Obama’s watch. And now the president publicly supports marriage equality.

I understand that there is little the president alone is empowered to do that would bring sweeping marriage equality across the U.S. I also realize that in this election year, there are politics at play, and that Obama is a politician. But this is a bold and still-risky position for him take. It may have taken him some time to “evolve” to this point, and his current position may still be less-than-perfect, but the president has proven himself a true ally to LGBT Americans.

However long overdue, this is a momentous pronouncement from our president, and it is worthy of celebration. I, for one, will be raising a glass (and perhaps a cupcake) for President Obama this evening.