Enemies of the Purple

Here’s a story I heard from Ben Bradlee, the late, great editor of The Washington Post. It’s about the president of the United States’ relationship with newspapers. It happened on the day Gerald Ford took office after Richard Nixon resigned.

The intrepid work of Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward had just flushed Nixon out of office. On the day that Ford took office as president, the Post printed an editorial cartoon by the immortal Herblock. It showed President Ford at his desk in the Oval Office, over the words: “I Got My Job Through The Washington Post.”

Bradlee said — not to me, personally, but at a lecture where I took down his words — that on Jerry Ford’s first day as president, the president called Bradlee at the Post and asked him if he could have Herblock’s original cartoon.

Bradlee sent it over tout de suite, by messenger.

President Ford sent it back within the hour, autographed.

Bradlee had it framed and hung in the Post editorial conference room, where it hangs, I assume, to this day.

Those were the days when a president of the United States could take a joke.

Those were days when the president of the greatest power on Earth was not a baby man: sullen, resentful, willfully ignorant, petty, grasping, mendacious, avaricious, racist, corrupt and humorless.

Believe it or not, that last adjective — humorless — is not only the worst, but the most dangerous trait of all.

Beaten women know it.

A beaten world is learning it.
Our beaten Republican Senate bows its heads and succumb to it.

So does the U.S. Supreme Court.

What this corrupt baby man is doing to our country, and to our reputation around the world, is vile. And it’s a tossup which is worse: What he is doing to our country, or to our reputation around the world.

It’s true that a president’s first job should be to take care of his or her own country. But it’s hard to dispute that for at least three generations the United States, certainly since World War II, has led the world by example. Let’s start with the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe — including our defeated enemies.

(By the way, when asked about politics, Gen. George C. Marshall, chief of staff under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman, later secretary of state, liked to respond: “My father was a Democrat. My mother was a Republican. I’m an Episcopalian.”)

Surely, the United States’ presumed moral leadership has been tarnished many a time: by the Vietnam war; by our support for coups in Iran and Guatemala in 1954 that brought repressive, arguably fascist regimes to power; by Nixon’s and Henry Kissinger’s support of Augusto Pinochet’s fascist military coup in Chile in 1973; by the Reagan administration’s disgraceful support of Central American death squads in the 1980s.

But in all those cases, and others, our presidents at least gave lip service to notions of freedom, human rights, democracy, and so on — true or not — in the service of U.S. corporations or not. At least we pretended to be trying.

But this guy in the White House today doesn’t even pretend to try. He praises Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro. This week he had the chutzpah to warn Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed (U.S.) Rep(s). Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

Disgrace?

It used to be a disgrace when a U.S. president took sides with a foreign power against the United States.

But Trump once again disgraced the United States, by using religion (Muslims and Jews) to favor a foreign power, while mass murders occur almost daily in our country, based in El Paso, definitively, upon Trump’s hateful rhetoric, leaving 22 dead.

Trump is not an emperor. But the Republican Senate treats him as one.

What will it take, Republican Party? What will it take to make you defend (y)our country from this megalomaniac psychopath, who has no regard for anyone but himself? And have you no regard but anyone but yourselves?

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