Again, can any candid person cavil with these facts? Black focuses on the enormity that is Obamacare. But he also notes that that disastrous piece of legislation is a sort of synecdoche for a larger disaster: the eclipse of political legitimacy:
This is the governmental equivalent of congestive heart failure. It is the domestic-affairs equivalent of the Syrian policy: the moral imperatives, red lines, “moral obscenity,” punitive action that wouldn’t really be damaging (would, in fact, be “unbelievably small”), and the constitutional position of commander-in-chief devolving to Congress. This has all become surreal.
Indeed it has. But where do we go from here? Black conjured the specter of Cromwell storming Parliament and thundering out its dissolution (“in the name of God go!”). Perhaps it will come to something like that.
I am not sure whether Black’s concluding remarks count as consolatory, or the opposite:
The American people are the greatest talent pool in the world; this is a system that has always worked adequately and often well. It is a democracy, and in a democracy the people are always right and they get the government they deserve. I do not dare to believe that the people that deserved Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan (and chose them a total of 14 times) deserve this.
One question, I suppose, is where exactly are the successors of these titans? Not, I think, in Washington, D.C.