Profiles In Cowardice
As I write this it’s pouring outside. As I live in a high rise I often joke, “The concrete needs the rain.” To fire-ravaged areas, however, the threat of mudslides is far from funny. Tragically, twenty people died during mudslides in January. Obviously, this intro is not exactly the stuff of “Laughing Matters.” So, as I often do to bail myself out, I turn to Mark Twain who once commented, “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”
Speaking of “doing nothing,” with another school shooting on Tuesday, I’m reminded of the continuing gun control controversy. One recent poll revealed 97% of the country wants universal background checks. You can’t get 97% to agree the sun rises in the east. But maybe things will be changing.
Tomorrow will be the “March For Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. and in eight-hundred venues in the U.S. and around the world. In D.C. estimates are that 500,000 students will show up to demand results. Amidst these dark days, these courageous kids are a bright light of hope. As opposed to most politicians, you could say they’re profiles in courage.
“Profiles In Courage” was the 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by then-Senator John F. Kennedy. (There’s evidence that JFK conceived of the theme and supervised but the vast majority of the writing was the late Ted Sorenson’s, JFK speechwriter.)
Reportedly there was a joke that his Senate colleagues wished “Jack had a little less profile and a little more courage.” This was also a reported comment of Eleanor Roosevelt who ultimately was charmed by JFK and gave him her endorsement.
Starting in 1990, Profile in Courage Awards are given each year at the Kennedy Library in Boston. The award is generally presented by Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy. Among past award winners is Senator John McCain whom Donald Trump infamously said was “No war hero.”
Frankly, I don’t see Trump as courageous. (Crazy, absolutely.) For example, at the White House, he mocked Senators and members of Congress for “being afraid of the NRA.” Days later he had lunch with NRA officials and mysteriously dropped his raising the age limit for gun ownership and universal background checks. (“Profile in cowardice?”)
As the Parkland students are about to descend on the White House, remember they’ve already persuaded the Florida legislature and Governor to make changes in their gun laws. No one thought it possible.
Back in the oval office on Tuesday, Trump inexplicably ignored National Security advisers’ warning (in ALL CAPS before congratulating despot Vladimir Putin’s victory in a sham election. And not word one about the nerve gas poisoning on the soil of our oldest ally, the U.K. (What exactly does Putin have on Trump?)
Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels and approximately twenty-five other women are accusing Donald of sexual misconduct. (Ranking him second only to Bill Cosby.) Stormy passed a lie detector test in 2011 seemingly to validate her claims and yet Trump, “I don’t even know any of these women.” If the question is, “How stupid he think we are?” the answer is plenty.
The lie detector examiner said there was a 1% chance Stormy was lying. (I say every time Trump speaks there’s a 1% chance he’s telling the truth.) This Sunday, Stormy’s “60 Minutes” interview will be aired. I’m guessing Americans will be left wondering why have a Non-Disclosure Agreement with someone you supposedly don’t even know?
On the other front, the Mueller Russian probe, GOP congressman Trey Gowdy had advice for Trump’s lawyers. “If your client is innocent why don’t you start acting like it?”’
Another person not fond of Trump is former CIA Director John Brennan who worked in five administrations. “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” (Ouch!)
New York writer, Fran Lebowitz, who’s watched Trump up close for forty years, commented, “You will never meet a person dumber than Donald Trump.” (Yes but how do she and Brennan really feel?)
Back to those who will never win a Profile In Courage, I include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. In June 2016, Trump’s disparaged Indiana-born Judge Curiel, “He’s a Mexican.” Afterwards, Ryan called it, “Textbook racism.” And yet, except for rare occasions, neither Ryan nor McConnell have criticized Trump since.
Reluctantly, I’m also calling out family values evangelicals who constantly give Trump a mulligan. Actually, twenty-six mulligans. Forgive me, but, given his behavior, doesn’t Trump have all of the qualifications of an anti-Christ? (I wonder if it’s ever crossed Melania’s mind.)
Speaking of religion, all I can say is Godspeed to the kids tomorrow on their mission to raise the conscience of America. Twain would be proud.
Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org