Obama Nostalgia Underscored

 “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  • “Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” Those were the posthumous words of John Lewis—still courageously exhorting fellow citizens to live up to America’s ideals and constitutional principles. Then others, including three ex-presidents–two Democrats and a Republican–took it from there at the moving, oratorically inspiring funeral service in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. One soon-to-be-ex-president, however, was notably not there: the narcissist-in-chief. It was proper, if pitiful. No one would have wanted “carnage” somehow worked into another Stephen Miller speech, regardless of occasion. 

The occasion also brought out presidential juxtaposition: the righteous eloquence of Barack Obama compared to the classless snub of the oratory-challenged Trump, who was too busy multi-tasking: trying to undermine the validity of the November election and scaring white suburbanites.                                                                                                                      “A man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance,” intoned Obama. “If we want our children to grow up in a democracy—not just with elections but a true democracy, a representative democracy…then we’re going to have to be more like John.” Obama also worked in less-than-subtle references to Trump White House race baiting—without actually mentioning Trump—although he did drop in George Wallace and Bull Connor for context.                                                                                                                               Had Trump actually been there, it would have been awkward—and personally infuriating to Trump—who has never recovered from having to sit through President Obama’s skewering at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. And had Trump been at the Lewis service, the juxtaposition would have been beyond bearable—and a visceral, nightmarish reminder of how far we have regressed and how much many of us miss a president we could take pride in. Think Andrew Johnson succeeding Abraham Lincoln—with apologies to Johnson.

  • In recent calls with Vladimir Putin, Trump acknowledged that he never brought up reports that the Russians paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Trump’s exact words (in part): “I have never discussed it with him. I’m afraid he’ll bring up golden showers in Moscow.”
  • Yes, the president is still retweeting tweets advocating the use of (anti-malaria drug) hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients. The FDA recently withdrew an order that allowed its use as an emergency treatment. This is unconscionable—and dangerous. Any CEO would be fired.
  • “I have to see.” That was the demander-in-chief’s disturbingly equivocal response to a query about whether he would be a “gracious” loser if Biden wins the electoral vote in November. Not shocking and hardly reassuring to Americans who consider the peaceful transfer of power a fundamental principle of this democracy.
  • Former KKK leader David Duke has been permanently banned from Twitter for repeated violations of rules on hate speech. That’s one way to get back into the news cycle—other than by endorsing Trump.
  • The entrepreneurial/political/patriotic side of America has manifested itself during the pandemic with all kinds of customized masks. But, no, don’t expect any MAGA masks.
  • Trump’s “silent majority. Neither.
  • “Nobody likes me.” Alas, plenty of “deplorables” still do.
  • More than a dozen Florida sheriffs stood stoically behind Trump when he made his campaign rant at TIA. It’s abhorrent for police to be props for an autocrat. BTW,Trump has received an endorsement from the Florida Police Benevolent Association. Disgraceful: It also means the de facto endorsement of authoritarian, stormtrooper-enamored leadership.
  • All elections are run by the states. The dates for all federal elections are determined by Congress. Surely a president would know that. Surely.
  • Imagine if Trump had been president during the 1960s—from the Cuban Missile Crisis to violent Vietnam protests and civil rights upheaval. For one thing, he would have been a Manhattan Dixiecrat. And imagine if the eras of Trump and Gen. Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay had overlapped. And then there’s this: Would we even be here now—literally–given how prudent presidents had to tactfully respond to Cold War, nuclear trip wires from Berlin to Havana. As with Trump and a pandemic, timing is everything.

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