A Week of Progressive Victories

It's hard to imagine the 2016 campaign producing anything remotely as uplifting as last week


What a week.

It’s hard to imagine the 2016 campaign going forward will produce anything remotely as uplifting and affirming as the rulings handed by the high court—yes, this high court—capped off by Obama’s soaring eulogy in Charleston. Chief Justice Roberts, sounding more like Earl Warren, authored an opinion that recognized the social and political realities of a flourishing economy desperately in need of a way to provide basic health services to a large and growing number of its uninsured citizens.

A snarling, contemptuous Scalia mocked the now 6-3 majority from the bench (a warm welcome to Justice Thomas), and Sean Hannity, the fact-challenged Hun who plays a journalist on the execrable Fox News Channel, warned his oblivious audience that death panels would ride again.

The Speaker of the House, who has called 56 or 57 votes against Obamacare on the House floor, sputtered on about legislative maneuvers he could still employ to derail the most successful, popular and necessary new social program since the Great Society.

The Court’s same-sex marriage decision provoked a similar reaction in the ranks of the Jurassic Republican presidential candidates, all of whom expressed their dismay at the ruling and vowed to pursue a kitchen sink of work-arounds—from a constitutional amendment (think about that idea for a minute) to state-level exemptions for religious organizations.

The winners in the elections calculus were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who are firmly planted on the right side of a tectonic shift in public opinion led by younger voters, an essential demographic for both campaigns.

To me the highlight of the week was Obama’s visit to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. You have to go back to Gettysburg to find a president who has spoken as profoundly at a time of national crisis.

I know these are stunning developments, but to me the highlight of the week was Obama’s visit to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. You have to go back to Gettysburg to find a president who has spoken as profoundly at a time of national crisis.

He acknowledged the unfathomable pain of the Emanuel congregation, he invoked the centrality of Christianity in African-American traditions, a faith of love and forgiveness, a faith that has spawned advocacy for civil rights and human rights, and reaching out beyond Charleston to rising applause he called on Christians across America to reject the tenets of conservative fundamentalism and its doctrine of hate and exclusion that has infected mainstream Christianity.

Those who will dismiss Obama’s remarks in South Carolina as a triumph of rhetoric over substance will first have to revise their under-examined obsession with Ronald Reagan.

And those like me who are skeptical of God’s role, much less interest, in matters involving public policy need to be reminded that the Republican candidate, and therefore a person with at least a 50 percent chance of becoming the next president, will be chosen by people who for the moment at least do not believe in climate change, do not support equal rights for LGBT people, do not support a woman’s right to choose, strongly support efforts to suppress the vote of people of color, oppose a path to citizenship for immigrants and in general have never been told by a leader of the caliber of Barack Hussein Obama that now would be a good time to revisit some of the fables they live by.

Hamilton Fish,
June 29, 2015

Hamilton Fish is the editorial director and publisher of The Washington Spectator.

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