It is no secret that we have hit bottom politically. Anyone who doubts that Trump is a disaster only needs to wait another news cycle and their doubts will be addressed. But anytime there are legitimate questions about whether the President of the United States has been seduced by the siren song of our nation’s oldest and most dangerous enemy our politics simply cannot go any lower. And while it is crystal clear to any objective observer that Trump and Putin are just one Ecstacy tablet away from sharing a passionate night of manly love, half of the voting public remains in deep denial that the country is being governed according to the imperatives of that dangerous relationship. And with each passing news cycle it becomes increasingly clear that flagrant lying and conniving at the top levels of the executive branch of our government have become the new normal in our national politics.
So I think we need to take a break to regain our perspective. We need a serious check-up from the neck-up. Because we desperately need to sharpen our focus on what we can do to get up off of this nasty, sticky floor that Trump and his minions have dragged us down to. This may be a journey of a million miles but I am convinced that step one must be to remember who we have been recently and who we can be again. The fantastic photograph at the top reflects a historical fact but it would be a shame if it became a historical relic. This shot captures President Barack Obama, a Democrat and the 44th President of the United States honoring President George H.W. Bush, a Republican and the 41st President of the United States with the Medal of Freedom- the highest honor that can be bestowed on any civilian by our government.
The grace, dignity, and professionalism that is on display in this moment demonstrates what our politics look like when we are at our very best. The governing philosophies of these two men are as different as their backgrounds, but their respect for each other, their nation, and the office they were both privileged to hold drowns out those differences in a way that defies the cynics who argue that Trump reflects the true essence of the American character. I disagree. He is a part of it for sure, but he is the lowest end of who we are as a nation.
These men, in this moment, reflect our highest selves. President Obama was wise and visionary in his selection of Bush 41 for this honor. He understood that we are running a marathon and not a sprint and that gestures like this and our remembrance of them can carry us through our darkest hours- like listening to our new President lie so much that his mental capacity to manage his duties is seriously in question. All conscience American’s are suffering through that embarrassing reality right now. But it helps us to reflect on Bush 41 personifying class by accepting this honor and sending a message to the nation that he fully accepted, embraced and respected the man and his office at a time when the goblins and jackals in his party were adopting obstruction and disrespect as their new political modus operandi.
We don’t do kings in America. But a president certainly can have a regal presence about himself that can represent us in a way that makes it easy to explain to the world why we chose him to lead our great nation. President Barack Obama did that as well as it can be done. President George H.W. Bush had his fair share of distinguished moments also- particularly in his post-presidency. And we need to remember what it felt like when men like this carried the flag for our country.
True, we don’t do kings but if we did, these guys would qualify and we sorely need to revisit the values that led us to select these type of leaders in our recent past. Especially now that we have installed the court jester at the helm of our government. But take heart, good people- with a directed effort and a little luck, we can shake off the shame and erase stain of the reality tv show presidency in four years time. Hopefully, it won’t take us too long to rinse off the sticky residue that Trump and his acolytes are sure to leave behind when they are ousted.
But even when we do scrub it all away, we never need to forget how far and how fast we fell so that we never disgrace ourselves like that again.
So thank you, President Obama and President Bush. You made us proud that day and you might have just preserved the best of our American identity for the days ahead. You gentlemen did your part. The rest is left to us.