JIM STOCKTON: What took so long, your honor?

By Jim Stockton • Last Updated 10:30 am on Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jim Stockton

My dog was ecstatic because Mutt Romney won the Iowa “carcass.” Being both a dog and a carnivore, it is understandable that he misinterpreted the name and mispronounced the last word. The latter is correctly rendered “crocus,” the flower of victory that Romney tucked into his lapel and carried it to far away New Hampshire. As high as Mount Utah and as buoyant as the Great Salt Lake, he strode into New Confrontation humming “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” At least, that’s what I’m given to understand.

Commentary following the Sunday morning debate was contradictory. CNN, at least the “crawl” on the bottom, said that no one “laid a glove” on Romney. MSNBC, the host, disagreed. Chris Matthews and Eugene Robinson cited revelations of weakness, using a clip or two of Gingrich and Santorum in a lighthearted puncturing of illusion. Their presentation preserved the flavor of a clownfest, originally comprising Bachwhite and the seven dwarves, Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Curly, Larry, Moe, and Buckwheat. Bachwhite and Buckwheat have withdrawn, leaving the Five to swing slapsticks at each other.

I’ve had trouble with that characterization despite growing up in an apolitical atmosphere. If anything, we were a bit fatalistic, feeling disenfranchised and counting one politician the same as another. That held true as late as 1960, when Gary Francis Powers’ spy plane was shot down over Russia. The United States refused to apologize, causing the late Cleo Hopkins to blurt, “He (President Eisenhower) won’t even apologize to his own brother.” That’s just the way we felt.

There were two constants. First, Government was Government, resistant to change regardless of who was in office. Second, the party in power was always destroying our country. I vividly remember the voice of Wendell Willkie in his quest for presidency. Our country was being lost, he said, pleading, “Help me … help me … help me save it.” He lost the election but was compatible enough with President Roosevelt to be placed in an ambassadorship. Willkie made another effort but died of a heart attack in 1944.

Strangely enough, that old time cry of despair has resurfaced in an impassioned rant by Judge Andrew Napolitano, which came to my website via Darlene Dowling Thompson. Delivered in energetic staccato, it describes a “bipartisan bird of prey,” a four minute restatement of the Polish proverb, “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

Napolitano plays “what if?” What if the establishment is independent, a law unto itself, committed to the same programs, debt, senseless wars, bailouts, and the like, regardless of who is in office? What if the two-party system is meant to restrict our choices rather than to expand them? What if “public opinion” is just a “manufactured narrative,” designed to promote the illusion that the individual vote actually counts?

What if the “war on drugs” is just a way to provide jobs for bureaucrats? Would that explain the weapons “lost in transit” to the benefit of drug cartels?

Going from present to past Napolitano asks, what if the Obama presidency is just an extension of the Bush presidency, which was just an extension of the Clinton presidency, and on back to Reagan. Despite touting smaller government, each expanded government. I’m glad Napolitano went back to Reagan because that’s when I began to shake off the doldrums and experience alarm. My fiery tongued grandfather decried “government by bureaucracy” even during World War II and was particularly critical of amassing debt. When Reagan announced the first $200 billion annual debt, about a third of our total existing national debt at that time, I nearly went into conniptions. When I began to see big banks absorbing little banks at an ever accelerating pace, I experienced anxiety. International ownership and outsider control were surely on the way.

Napolitano weaves his way to a comparison, noting that Romney and others are very much like the current Mr. President in that they have espoused and promoted expansion of government. Ron Paul, he says, is too far outside the loop to fit into the inflexible narrative. He says it with a tinge of faded hope, a touch of helplessness much like that prevalent on the sandy streets of Belding back then. Knowledge has come full circle to link with “ignorance.” What took so long, Your Honor?

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