Sunday, September 04, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist Has Died

This news is not unexpected, but the timing is pretty stunning. Consider this: In the space of less than two weeks, over 800 Shiite pilgrims were trampled to death in a stampede caused by false rumors of a suicide bomber; a Category 5 hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, killed thousands of people, and destroyed New Orleans, along with the lives of tens of thousands of surviving victims; and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court died, only four months after Sandra Day O'Connor retired.

In the past five days the Bush administration's extraordinarily slow, inefficient, and insensitive response to the devastation of New Orleans, and the subsequent spectacle of 20,000 people descending into a hell of no food or water, no medical care, sleeping in pools of urine and walking through feces and sewage from overflowing toilets, public health conditions reminiscent of places like Bangladesh, blacked-out hallways you entered knowing you might be beaten, raped, or murdered, has stunned, shocked, and outraged the entire country, and probably the world. This catastrophic natural disaster has shone a blindingly bright spotlight on Bush's callousness, his intense shallowness, his inability to take control of a situation that calls for a human response rather than a military response, his complete inability to comprehend suffering of this magnitude, his fundamental indifference to people of color, to poor people, to those who do not have.

How will all of this affect Bush's choice for Rehnquist's replacement, if it does? How will it affect the confirmation process? It would be nice to think that Bush will have to pay a price for his unbelievably inept and uncaring response to the ruin of New Orleans and the devastation of thousands upon thousands of human lives. I suppose we will just have to stay tuned in to find out.

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