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Back in 1919, William Butler Yeats wrote a poem called “The Second Coming,” which began with the following verses:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The Falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart, the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I think of this poem often. I thought of it when John Roberts turned himself into the legal equivalent of a pretzel in a cowardly attempt to dodge the fact that Obamacare was, on the face of it, unconstitutional. I thought of it later while sitting in a hotel room in Indianapolis as Mike Pence collapsed when Tim Cooke of Apple called him after the Indiana Legislature passed a facsimile of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I thought of it when Nathan Deal vetoed an act passed by the Georgia Legislature specifying that bathrooms be allocated in that state by sex. And I thought of it today when James Comey, Director of the FBI, recommended that Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted for gross negligence for doing all of her business as Secretary of State via an email server lodged in her home, pleading that the poor girl had not intended harm.
We, too, live in a time when the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity. It has been ugly the last eight years, and it is going to be uglier still.