Howard Baker, Where Have You Gone?
The late Howard Baker was a 3-term Senator from Tennessee with a reputation for fairness. Putting country over party during the Senate Watergate Hearings, he’s remembered for his famous question, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”
Other GOP Senators who stood up to Nixon included Barry Goldwater who led a small group who went to the White House to tell the President he was doomed. Desperate, Nixon asked Goldwater, “How many Senate votes do I have?” “Maybe twenty,” replied Goldwater, “and mine won’t be one of them.” (Ouch!)
I mention Baker’s courage because today there’s so little. Nowhere is that more painfully obvious than the zero action in response to climate change.
As I write this, category 5 tropical hurricane Dorian left the Bahamas underwater having suffered historic destruction and devastation. Deadly Dorian is approaching the southeastern Atlantic coast of the U.S. and could cause monumental flooding and damage, not to mention potential loss of life.
One state that will not get hit is Alabama, though inexplicably Donald Trump predicted they could be. Why? Who knows? The National Weather Service issued a statement saying Alabama would not be hit. It was the first time in memory that a governmental agency essentially instructed the public to disregard a POTUS.
Instead of admitting a mistake, something Trump is clearly psychologically unable to do, he more than doubled down. During an Oval Office briefing on Dorian, Trump displayed an official National Weather Service map in which the storm’s projected path was extended to Alabama by someone using a black sharpie. (And thus spawning “Sharpie-Gate.”)
Knowingly issuing a false weather report is subject to imprisonment and or fine. But when asked about the obvious alteration, Trump repeated “I don’t know,” three times. (Did he think nobody would notice? #Delusional.)
Trump reminds me of a 6th grader giving an oral report about a book he hasn’t read. Trump supporters find him refreshing, I find him pathological. That said, I suppose things could be worse because at one point Trump reportedly suggested dropping a nuclear bomb in the eye of the hurricane. (Good Lord!)
Every day we see news footage of severe weather events right out of Al Gore’s 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” Rejecting science, Trump has said, “Weather patterns could reverse,” adding, “I have a good instinct for these things.”
That brings me, however painfully, to another monumental crisis, the mass murders in America, which are like a surreal horror movie. (Mass murders are defined as 4 or more people dying, excluding the shooter.) As of today, in 2019 we’ve had 250 days and 283 mass murders!
While the Democratic Congress has passed three gun reform bills, Mitch McConnell refuses to bring any to the Senate floor. (Known as “Moscow Mitch for failing to protect our elections, McConnell is now “Massacre Mitch” for his stunning inaction on gun control.)
McConnell says he’ll only bring a bill to the floor if Donald Trump approves of it. He’s essentially turning the power of the Senate, a vital part of the balance of powers, over to the executive branch.
After Parkland, a supposedly enlightened Trump accused Senators of “being petrified” of the NRA saying, “ Bring me a bill and I’ll sign it. I’ll take the heat!” However, after a few recent phone calls from scandal-ridden, expensive Italian suit-wearing Wayne LaPierre and his near bankrupt NRA, Trump has turned his back on background checks. (No pun intended.)
Trump says that it’s “mental illness that pulls the trigger.” Since gun-related deaths in the U.S. are approximately 10 times other industrialized countries, the problem must be either we have more guns (375 million) than people (325 million) or we have 10 times more mental illness than other countries.
Personally I find it ironic Trump talks about mental illness or even “fake news,” while doctoring maps. It’s reminiscent of when he mistakenly called Apple’s Tim Cook “Tim Apple,” later saying he did it to “save time.”
While “Massacre Mitch” won’t do anything, at least Walmart is. On Tuesday they said it would discontinue ammunition used in high-capacity magazines and military-style weapons and asked its customers not to openly carry firearms in stores even in states where it’s permitted.
For the sake of our country, and our planet, there have to be modern day Howard Bakers. But who? Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner? They’re petrified all right, but not so much of the NRA than an impulsive, insane Trump tweet storm that unleashes his cult followers.
Baker, Goldwater and most of all, Ronald Reagan, would have despised Trump. They would have been sickened by his lying, lack of character, his transparent stupidity and his maligning women and immigrants. (Is that all?)
Watergate brought down Nixon. If only Sharpie-Gate could do the same to Trump.
Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org