The Best and the Brightest

I have commented before that the founders of this nation must be flip-flopping in their graves when numbers of citizens in this country vote for the President on the basis of brief TV debates that are little more than tailored entertainment that must compete for viewers with more popular programs such as Monday Night Football. But if they were disturbed about that they must be even more agitated to think about the quality of persons running for the highest political offices in this land. I am thinking primarily of the “rape experts,” like Todd Akin a Republican from Missouri, who have been making news insisting that there is such a thing as “legitimate” rape in which “the female reproductive system is able to block conception from an unwanted pregnancy” —  a theory based on what shall hereafter be known as the “New Biology.” Tina Fey got it right recently when she said, “If I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a two-dollar hair cut explain to me what rape is, I’m gonna lose my mind.”

But, speaking of gray-faced men, a more recent comment may take the proverbial cake. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, also a Republican, has declared in public that when a woman becomes pregnant from rape it is “God’s Will.” A recent ABC News story quotes the man as follows:

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during Tuesday’s Senate debate, choking up. Mourdock’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest.

Both of these men were speaking out against abortion, of course, and should never have ventured into the treacherous realm of female anatomy and certainly should have avoided entirely the general subject of pregnancy where their credentials would never pass muster. But then perhaps they shouldn’t have been speaking about abortion at all because the founders were quite clear about wanting to separate religious from political issues and abortion is clearly a religious issue.

The founders also wanted what Jefferson liked to think of as the “best and brightest” people in the country to be elected by a carefully controlled process that would guarantee that the people at large, whom they didn’t really trust, were unable to elect others like themselves. If that ship didn’t sink soon after launch, it is assuredly at the bottom of the lagoon by this time.

But I also recall when President Richard Nixon, who once bragged that he had never had a course in political science, nominated G. Harrold Carswell to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. When confronted by the charge that the man was “mediocre” and not fit to be on the highest court in the land, Nebraska’s U.S. Senator Roman Hruska famously said “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?” Well, we know that “mediocre” was a euphemism for “stupid,” and it was clear at the time that the mediocre citizens already had someone who represented them in the highest office in the country, not to mention the Senate, and furthermore the Supreme Court is not supposed to be a representative body in the first place. Perhaps Messers Nixon and Hruska both should have taken that course in political science.

In any case, pity the poor founders: they can get no rest in their graves for all the leaping and spinning they must be doing these days given the mess we have made of their great experiment.