Thanks for Nothing, Sandra Day O'Connor

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For many—most?—liberals, the aftermath of the 2000 election is like an old injury that won't heal. Most of the time you don't think about it, but if someone touches it, the old pain flares up again. Despite Antonin Scalia's frequent admonition to "Get over it!", doing so is awfully hard. Had George W. Bush been a run-of-the-mill Republican president, it might have been easier. But he wasn't; he was an epically awful president whose ability to cut such a far-reaching path of destruction made him exceptional.

Which is why so many of us were unimpressed when Sandra Day O'Connor, after years of defending the Supreme Court's intervention in Bush v. Gore, told the Chicago Tribune, "Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye,'" since the case "gave the Court a less-than-perfect reputation." You don't say. 

At the time, you may remember, O'Connor was eager to avoid a Gore presidency. Attending a party on election night, she reportedly exclaimed "This is terrible" when early reports showed Gore winning Florida; her husband explained that she was hoping to retire, but couldn't if a Democrat would be in the White House. She got her chance later, after signing on to one of the most disgraceful, unprincipled decisions in the history of American jurisprudence.

The fact that O'Connor was replaced by the doctrinaire conservative Samuel Alito doesn't mean she was some kind of liberal while on the Court. And as some have pointed out, many of the areas in which she steered a moderate course are being dismantled by Alito, whose ascension was made possible by Bush v. Gore. So don't feel sorry for her; she went on her way to a pleasant retirement. It was the rest of us who paid the price.

SO THEY SAY 

"I get a big emotional kick out of it."

Newt Gingrich on problem-solving

 

DAILY MEME: A SPECIAL-ELECTION TREAT

  • There's a special election today! People in Massachusetts are heading to the ballot box to vote in primaries to determine Secretary of State John Kerry's replacement in the Senate.
  • Representative Ed Markey is ahead in the polls in the Democratic primary, the contest that will likely produce the election's eventual victor.
  • The GOP contest is a little more exciting, given the possibility of a surprise.
  • Special elections rarely lead to long lines at the polls, and the Boston bombings two weeks ago changed the tenor of the race—and left even fewer eyes focused on the campaign trail ...
  • ... as well as leading to a few candidate blunders.
  • Reports from polling centers today are less exciting than live commentary of a 100-meter dash by earthworms.
  • Which is unsurprising for those who know about the "comically" low turnout in D.C.'s special election last week.
  • Outside spending in the race has topped $2.2 million.
  • The Massachusetts Senate race isn't the only special election in town—South Carolina's House candidates just had a debate yesterday ...
  • ... which can be summed up thusly: "Elizabeth Colbert Busch Goes There on Argentine Affair in Debate with Mark Sanford."
  • These new billboards for an online dating company in South Carolina also went there.
  • The election is only a week away.

 

WHAT WE'RE WRITING

  • The sequester strikes again. Scott Lemieux notes that the tightening of federal funds will cripple the accused's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and adequate representation.
  • The Tea Party has been scary for the sane and the liberal for a long time. A new report on the upstart pseudo-movement has come out, and Abby Rapoport writes that it's time for the GOP to join in the fear-fest. 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING 

  • Neda Semnani on how Hollywood just can't get female journalists right anymore: "Whereas being a female reporter was once synonymous with tenacity, superior intellect, and wit, today's fictional female reporter serves as shorthand for new media reporter/blogger: young, naïve, and morally bankrupt."
  • Mexico is winding down its extensive cooperation with the U.S. in its disastrous drug war.
  • Temp agencies are at the heart of a new boom in wage theft and labor exploitation, and in cities like Chicago, raiteros are their veins and arteries.
  • Economists Reinhart and Rogoff have been discredited, but austerity rushes on. The next front, it seems, is "policy uncertainty"—a term that, as Wonkblog notes, should hold just as little capital.
  • The president will soon be pushing for a new head of the Federal Communications Commission, and despite the sad, monopolistic state of our telecommunications industry, Obama's pick will almost certainly be industry insider Tom Wheeler rather than equality crusader Susan Crawford.
  • A new study confirms that the backlash against voter-suppression laws increased the proportion of minorities who voted in 2012.
  • Possibly in light of last week's doomsaying by Max Baucus, Obama went on air to say that the health-care law is doing fine, that it'll be implemented fully in 2014, and that nobody needs to worry.

 

POLL OF THE DAY 

According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than four in ten Americans think that the Affordable Care Act has been overturned or repealed. That could be a good thing given that 40 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law, compared with 35 percent who have a favorable view of the law. But more likely, it just means that when the benighted four-in-ten start reaping the rewards of Obamacare, they won't know whom to thank.

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