Americans have grown numb to tales of political crimes as the US Supreme Court moves at a snail’s pace

BALTIMORE – People around here used to boast, sarcastically, that we led the league in political corruption. After all, we gave the nation Spiro Agnew. Half a century later, he’s still the only vice president in U.S. history forced to resign.

Then, in short order, we had a governor convicted of taking bribes, two nearby county executives similarly brought down, and a political corruption trail you can trace all the way to the present. We had one mayor convicted of swiping gift cards intended for children, and another convicted of writing a book about children and then trying to cash in on it fraudulently.

That first mayor, Sheila Dixon, praying that voters had forgotten her previous sins, recently ran for mayor again. She lost, but not that badly. The second mayor, Catherine Pugh, exhibiting the same kind of shamelessness, got out of prison and now posts party photos of herself on Facebook. Nobody makes a fuss. We’ve all learned lessons from Donald Trump.

And, let’s face it, Baltimore’s not alone. Every town has its heroes and villains, and a lot of Americans have apparently grown numb to tales of political crime.

Witness reaction to the latest judgment against Trump. A jury finds him guilty of charges that would humiliate any other human being and, in a more sensitive time, utterly eliminate any thought of him running for president.

He paid off a porn star and a Playboy playmate for sexual favors (while his wife was home with their newborn) to fix a presidential election. And yet the most recent polling, and the staggering financial donations to Trump’s campaign, indicate he’s sailing along and might get re-elected president.

Hell, some of us remember a guy named Nelson Rockefeller, who seemed destined for the White House until he committed a great sin in mid-20th century America. He got divorced, and he married a second time. And everybody agreed, You can’t be president with that kind of stain on your name. And that was it for Rocky, who humbly bowed out.

For a divorce!

Okay, the culture has changed. We’re numb to political sin, having been exposed to it so often.

But some public sins are inexplicable, and they’ve shaken the country in ways we never anticipated.

I speak of America’s court system in general, which has had more than three years to examine the alleged crimes of Donald Trump, but stumbles over various problems, legalistic or otherwise. And as we speed our way to the next presidential election, it becomes all but impossible to bring these cases to trial before Election Day.

After three years?!

I speak, also, about the sins of the U.S. Supreme Court itself. The current gang gets away with conflicts of interest, and dragging their feet, and at least one of them takes outrageously expensive gifts, and the bunch of them are accountable to no one.

There’s Justice Clarence Thomas, who takes it with both hands. As ProPublica recently reported, Thomas has accepted luxury trips every year for the last 20 years from a billionaire Republican mega-donor, Harlan Crow. Thomas mentioned none of these on financial disclosure forms.

He goes on private yachts and private jets. We’re not talking about weekends in Ocean City. Thomas goes to countries all over the world, all on his pal’s money. They go island-hopping in Indonesia. They go to private resorts and all-male retreats.

As ProPublica reported, “The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Then there’s Justice Samuel Alito, caught on tape the other day declaring there was “no room for compromise” on certain political issues. Really? Isn’t compromise what the great Melting Pot of America is built on?

But Alito’s intemperate remarks only add to an existing controversy: the upside-down flags flying over his homes, which are similar to those brandished by rioters who stormed the Capitol, at Trump’s urging, on Jan. 6, 2021.

Alito’s response? His wife put the flags up there. He never even noticed them until some nosy neighbor took offense, he says.

Meanwhile, the high court has already shown us their thinking about Jan. 6, 2021, that dark date in history: they wish to ignore it. For long months we’ve had prosecutors attempting to try the case, and the Supremes keep telling us they’re busy, they’ll get to the details holding it up.

But when? The entire country watched on television as rioters, enflamed by Trump’s lies about a rigged presidential election, violently crashed into the U.S. Capitol and attempted to overthrow a government.

How has it taken more than three years to bring such a case to court? They’ve got 350 million witnesses who could testify in that case.

Then there are the other Trump cases. They’ve got audio of Trump on the phone to Atlanta, saying he “only” needs officials there to change the specific number of votes by which he lost.

And there’s Mara Lago, where Trump stored top secret government documents after he left office, and then tried to keep them hidden.

And it’s more than three years, and the next presidential election gets closer, and somehow these cases get nowhere so the country can’t get the fullest look at the outrages before voting.

We’ve learned to take our politicians’ crimes for granted. But there was a time when we imagined we could turn to our courts for fair play. Especially the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those days are officially over.

One thought on “Americans have grown numb to tales of political crimes as the US Supreme Court moves at a snail’s pace

  • June 14, 2024 at 11:14 AM



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.