I’ve been thinking about time lately, prompted by something I read that I’ll get to in a minute.
The element of time came into play in the Birther saga early on, in the filing of the Keyes v. Obama lawsuit in California. This was an early Orly Taitz adventure, where she filed the lawsuit just hours after President Obama had been inaugurated. She tried to say that she had sued Obama in his personal capacity as a candidate, but that didn’t work because of the timing. When the Circuit Court of Appeals got around to reviewing the case it noted that Defendant Keyes (who had been a candidate for President) had no special standing as a candidate because at the time the suit was filed Keyes was no longer a candidate. The other time element in Keyes was Orly’s failure, week after week, to effect service of the Complaint on the President. I wrote in August of 2009:
Meanwhile the Government is still waiting for proper service of the complaint (good grief, it’s been 7 months now), and the court has ordered that this be done no later than September 8, 2009.
Leo Donofrio’s election-eve objection in New Jersey ran into similar trouble.
Another example is right out of comments on this site, and they deal with Tracy Fair’s ballot challenge in Maryland; Tracy is reported as having said:
I’ve got plenty of time before I need to serve Obama, so I am waiting it out to see if any more good evidence arises and may even amend it again.
GeorgetownJD commented here:
It would behoove her to read the court’s lengthy discussion in Ross v. State Board of Elections about the statutory limitation and the doctrine of laches, and concluded:
“Ross’s decision to “wait and see” until after the election, prejudiced Branch, the State Board of Elections, and the residents of the Thirteenth Councilmanic District. … Therefore, we conclude that the doctrine of laches bars Petitioner’s claim as a matter of law, and we uphold the Circuit Court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Respondents.
See also Buxton v. Buxton, 363 Md. 634, 770 A.2d 152 (2001); Parker v. Board of Election Supervisors, 230 Md. 126, 186 A.2d 195 (1962).
Again there is the issue of perhaps there being less time than someone expects.
What prompted the story though is a much older example, and here I quote from the Wikipedia article on Lee Atwater, a political advisor to Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush and one of the nastiest political operatives of all time, responsible for the “naked cruelty” (his words) of the 1988 Presidential Campaign:
On 5 March 1990, Atwater collapsed during a fundraising breakfast on behalf of Senator Phil Gramm. Doctors searching for an explanation to what was initially thought to be a mere fainting episode discovered a grade 3 astrocytoma, an unusually aggressive form of brain cancer, in his right parietal lobe. Atwater underwent interstitial implant radiation, a then-new form of treatment, at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, and received conventional radiation therapy at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. The treatment for the brain tumor left him paralyzed on his left side, robbed him of his tone discrimination, and swelled his face and body (from steroids). He spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair.
Conversion to Catholicism and new outlook
In the months after the severity of his illness became apparent, Atwater said he had converted to Catholicism, through the help of Fr. John Hardon and, in an act of repentance, Atwater issued a number of public and written letters to individuals to whom he had been opposed during his political career. In a letter to Tom Turnipseed dated June 28, 1990, he stated, “It is very important to me that I let you know that out of everything that has happened in my career, one of the low points remains the so-called ‘jumper cable’ episode,” adding, “my illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood, and probably never would have. So, from that standpoint, there is some truth and good in everything.”
In a February 1991 article for Life magazine, Atwater wrote:
My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.
Lee Atwater had time to repent. Those who he worked for perhaps never have. When I look across the Obama Conspiracy landscape I see things said that are as evil as anything Atwater ever did. I hope that it will not take an experience as traumatic as what happened to Lee Atwater (or George Wallace) to help them see what is good in life.