Better Never Than Late: Profiles in Cowardice

Posted: October 27, 2017 in New Post

This week, four men of the president’s party offered impassioned warnings about the threat he poses to our democracy. Three of them did so in eloquent tones, one with stunning blunt force. “Trump may be setting the US on the path to World War III,” Sen. Bob Corker warned us.  We faced this prospect once before and that was 12 days in October of 1962 when there were steadier hands and cooler temperments at the helm of government. Stripped of any pretence of diplomacy, Sen. Corker described our current ruler in terms reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s classic film, “The Madness of King George :

I don’t think there’s any question that that’s the case, just in the way he conducts himself and goes to such a low level. I just — I do. The worst of it is going to be the whole debasing of our nation. I think that will be the contribution that hurts our nation most.

Corker’s words shocked reporters and fellow party members alike, while he described how the person sitting at the Resolute Desk is “utterly untruthful.”

In a speech given at the George W. Bush Institute, the former president for whom the institute is named gave a rousing rebuke of the dogma of Trumpism and its corrosion of our ideals:

Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism. We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. . . . the argument turns too easily into animosity.

It was strange to me that a man who was so reviled just a decade ago was now echoing the sentiments of so many of us who watch as our democracy comes under attack from the very people sworn to protect it.

Adding to this fugue of discontent was Sen. John McCain, who, at the Munich Security Conference in Germany issued this not-so-veiled warning about the current commander-in-chief

[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups — especially Muslims. They would be alarmed by the growing inability — and even unwillingness — to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”

John McCain, not up for re-election and facing a life-threatening disease, felt free to express what he must have been feeling since last year, when his service to this country was desecrated by a man who hid from Vietnam behind a bone spur.

And then this week there was Sen. Jeff Flake who used the occasion of his retirement to make a historic speech. Fighting the headwinds of white grievance, his poll numbers in Arizona have dropped below typhoid. Suddenly he was like Tyrion Lannister of “Game of Thrones”. No one would take him seriously. So he took to the floor of the United States Senate and said this:

We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.

Everyone sat in awe as a sitting senator from the president’s own party said what he claimed all the others in the room were secretly whispering. The king was mad. But the rest sat silently as the words spilled from his lips for fear that the mad king had spies in the room and their heads would be next on the Twitter guillotine.

All these men come to the forefront of the resistance with a lot in common. They all dedicated their lives to the service of our country. They all have expressed in no uncertain terms the danger the current resident of the White House and his minions pose to the security of our country. They all have sounded an alarm that our democracy now depends on more voices coming forward. And they are all massive hypocrites.

Yes, each one of these four men was part of the architecture that the current administration built upon. George W. Bush stole an election in 2001, failed to heed the warnings in the days leading up to September 11, 2001, and involved us in two endless wars based on the lies and misdirection of the neo-cons he served.

John McCain, instead of putting America first, opted for political expediency by placing the dangerously unqualified Sarah Palin to be potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency. The result was a cascading adoration of stupidity by a segment of the electorate that resulted in the Tea Party.

As for Bob Corker, he was as recently as last year a sycophant so enamoured of the mad king that he was seriously considered as his running mate. It is hard to admire a man who sounds the alarm to alert us to a conflagration he helped ignite. But by then the fire was already into its fifth alarm.

And finally, there is Sen. Jeff Flake who, while admittedly an early critic, still found it in his heart to vote for the mad king’s agenda ninety-six percent of the time.  By the time his ideological fever broke, he had fed the beast the sustenance he needed to become stronger.

The thing that should frighten us most is this: Only in retreat did these men find the courage to admit that the king was mad. The Mad King watched from his tower as the battlefield, cleared of all men of integrity and became his, as the rest lay gifts and praise at his feet.

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