1.) The acceleration of North Korea's missile-test program.
2.) The increasing bellicosity and estrangement from Europe of Turkey under Erdogan and its ramifications for the Syrian civil war, demographic trends in Europe, and a unified Western response to Russian and Iranian aims.
3.) The civil war among Congressional Republicans manifested most acutely by the question of how to repeal and replace the "Affordable" Care Act, an issue with implications for one sixth of the US economy.
4.) The nearly complete rot of America's educational system.
5.) The marked slowdown in entrepreneurial activity.
Okay, it would make for an interesting parlor game to pursue the tweaking of this list. I've no doubt left off some readers' pet front-burner issues, and perhaps elicited a what's-that-one-doing-up-there response to a few on the list.
The overarching point, though, is that the country is facing an array of pressing problems.
I might have included something about the destiny of the Supreme Court on the list. The current Capitol Hill hearings for nominee Neil Gorsuch are pretty significant, after all.
But consider what a clown show much of yesterday's proceedings were:
Whitehouse attempted to frame it as a matter of courtesy, in order to know what interests are backing Gorsuch’s confirmation.
That is vile, on its face. It suggests that Gorsuch would be the puppet to special interest groups, and there is nothing in his background, or from his confirmation answers to suggest that to be the case.
“You could ask right now as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of respect for the process that anybody funding this should declare themselves right now so we can evaluate who is behind this effort,” Whitehouse said.
It is Whitehouse who is guilty of disrespecting the process.
Wisely, Gorsuch turned it back on Whitehouse.
“It would be a politics question and I’m not, with all respect senator, going to get involved in politics,” he said.
Gorsuch said if lawmakers want to pass legislation that would require that political advocacy groups to disclose their donors, they could do that.
“If you want to have more disclosure, pass a law,” he said.
It is no shock that Whitehouse would play the outraged party and say Gorsuch’s answer was unsatisfactory.
According to Whitehouse, Gorsuch failed to give his views on the problem of special interest influence in the political process.
One problem, Senator Whitehouse: That wasn’t your question.
You wanted specific names. You didn’t want to know Gorsuch’s opinion on special interests.
Nice try, though.Al Franken went Whitehouse one further and just plain beclowned himself.
Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein likewise conducted themselves in an utterly ridiculous manner.
But, of course, the big preoccupation, at least among the east-coast chattering class, is the whole business involving the following list of players:
- James Comey
- The House Intelligence Committee
- Donald Trump
The president could go a long way toward steering the nation's attention to actually important issues and away from everybody's zeal to stumble across a Watergate-magnitude scandal - or two, or three - but, as we know, that's not the way he rolls. It's not in his nature to do a clean back-down from his outrageous tweet about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.
And, speaking of parlor games, it's an interesting exercise to try to parse where FBI director Comey is coming from. In the past year, he's gone from soft-spoken-but-firm-and-principled law enforcement official to tragic figure who crumbles even in the face of 30,000 Clinton-related emails, to a guy who appears to be frantically trying to stay on top of incoming evidence, or at least ostensible evidence, that seems to necessitate reopening an investigation into said emails, to a guy obsessed with investigating presidential campaigns per se.
But, even if one would substitute some other issue for one or two on the list above, are they not all far more vital to our national well-being than a bunch of data-combers trying to prove what we already know - namely, that even a great system of governance such as that enjoyed by the Unites States is peopled with fallible human beings prone to both honest error and temptation?
So now that that is out of our system here at LITD, don't look for endless posts on the latest developments on this.
Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, as he should be, Donald Trump will be a mess, as he always has been, leakers will leak, media hounds will pounce on each leak, Russia will continue to foment chaos in American politics and institutions, and Democrats will continue to behave like cornered animals.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of importance to pay attention to.