In the End we will not remember the Words of our Enemies, but the Silence of our Friends
Lack of Courage: Republican Leaders’ Main Problem
“Have courage and be kind,” that is the advise Cinderella’s mother gave her daughter before she died. Well, Cinderella is a fairy tale so some can dismiss this as beautiful words from Disney utopia or sentiments from a Hallmark card. But the reality is we use these type of messages to teach our kids virtues and hope they will grow up to be people of integrity. The Republican leadership is in need of hearing such a message. Most of them have shown little courage and or acts of kindness toward those in need. Republican leaders are very quick to attack President Barack Obama over made-up stuff but they have shown amazing, in fact, unacceptable tolerance to Republican nominee Donald Trump, lies, insults, blatant xenophobia and acts of poor judgement. In the past eight years, Republican leaders have done an amazing job in proving lack of courage in leadership. They looked the other way when former Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin accused Obama of setting up death panels in Obamacare, they responded tepidly when Republican nominee Donald Trump led an incessant racist attack on Obama questioning his citizenship, religion and educational integrity. They gave a platform for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, against protocol, in his effort to undermine Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. They have accused Obama for being in cohorts with ISIS, with Trump implying Obama wanted them to win and Sen. John McCain saying Obama is directly responsible for the ISIS-inspired attack in Orlando, Florida where a gunman killed 49 people in one night. Republicans, through their Fox News mouthpiece, smeared First Lady Michelle Obama for saying “for the first time in her adult life I’m proud of my country,” completely mis-characterizing her statement to mean she was only proud of the United States because her husband became president. They did not even try to give her the benefit of the doubt. There are many more examples but I will stop there. Yes, Republicans have shown a lot of courage going after a Democratic president, sometimes in a hateful and disrespectful manner, but that is the only time they show courage, when they’re acting like a pack of wild dogs going after prey. They have not shown much courage on many other things.
Unlike Republicans, Obama has shown a lot of courage and leadership. He has made a lot effort to reach out to Republicans that has not been reciprocated. It took a lot of courage to withstand the racist Tea Party attacks and slander toward him. It took courage, class and strong will to withstand Trump’s racist birther attacks geared toward delegitimizing him as the first African American President questioning his citizenship and religion. It took a lot of courage to withstand the daily lies from Fox News and its band of highly-paid character assassins Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly among others that has knotted the country against the administration and fomented hate toward Obama. Fox News found ways to even deny Obama any credit for making the very tough call to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. They diminished the complexity of the mission and his decision to authorize the execution without seeking the approval from the Pakistani government, which could not be trusted. Obama made the decision knowing too well how the right wing, led by hateful talk radio hosts and Fox News commentators would have reacted had the mission failed. The decision to kill Bin Laden, the risks notwithstanding, is perhaps Obama’s greatest example in courageous leadership. There are many other examples of courage in Obama’s leadership. It took a lot of courage and will-power to pass the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. It took a lot of courage to stand up and bail out Detroit despite the political fallout it caused. It took a lot of courage to fight for gay rights and equal pay for women, and it took a lot of courage and leadership to stop the recession and turn the economy around. Obama did all this without the support of Republicans, who not only refused to help, but tried to block him every step of the way. They have dutifully talked-down the recovery blaming Obama for not creating a faster recovery while at the same time blocking his ideas. It doesn’t matter to them that the reason we need a recovery in the first place is because their policies, under President George W. Bush, lead the country to one of the worst economic recession and collapse in recent history. Their act of bad faith led to the downgrading of US credit rating when Republicans refused to increase the debt ceiling. It was wild to see Republicans, who have never had a problem raising the debt ceiling under Republican presidencies, turn a routine congressional procedure, politicize the issue and hold the president hostage to a series of back and forth meeting as if they were members of rival nations. Obama would have reached a deal faster were he negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is therefore very disturbing to see their generous, patient, and look-the-other-way reaction to Trump’s morally and intellectually bankrupt campaign.
While it is understandable that nobody took Trump seriously when he first entered the presidential race, that time is gone, we are sober now and the hangover is gone. Nobody is laughing anymore. This is serious, Trump, the joke, is now the Republican nominee, just one step away from the Oval Office. It is hard to imagine there are any Republican leaders out there who really think Trump has what it takes to be Commander In Chief. I don’t even think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has presented himself as a Trump sycophant, believes Trump has what it takes despite slavishly standing behind him in press conferences like a scorned butler. (No offense to professional butlers). Republican leaders have been presented with numerous opportunities to dump Trump but they have passed on all of them. The latest opportunity came just this weekend when Trump in a ill-informed effort to protect his inflated ego, attacked a Gold Star family or Khirz and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed 12 years ago by a car bomb that could have killed his entire regiment had he not stepped forward to protect them. After Khan’s address to the DNC where he questioned Trump if he had ever read the US constitution and challenged him that “you have sacrificed nothing, and no one,” Trump responded with his usual insensitive and juvenile manner, attacking them by first by questioning why Ghazala, Humayun’s mother did not speak much, implying that she was probably barred from speaking because she is an oppressed Muslim woman and then by implying that Khan was not smart enough to come up with the words in his speech, and stating that he was just mouthing words given to him by Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This is despite the fact Khan was not reading from a teleprompter or prepared speech. Trump got his wish to hear Ghazala speak soon enough, in an Op Ed published in the Washington Post, Ghazala responded and told Trump the she was not barred from speaking, rather she was overwhelmed with grief. In her powerful rebuke to Trump as only a grieving mother could she Ghazala stated the following:
Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.
” It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty. I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”
Appearing in CNN and MSNBC, Khan forcefully pushed back questioning Trump’s judgment, empathy and moral compass in attacking his wife, a grieving Gold Star Mother. He disclosed that he has received a lot of support from people including some Republicans leaders but he declined to name them to maintain their confidence. The revelation that he has received private support from Republicans reveals, once again, the problem with GOP that has led to their party being taken over by a demagogue who is clearly unfit to become president of the United States– they lack courage. They lack the courage to put their country ahead of party. They lack the courage to stand-up to a bully, bigot, and xenophobe who has shown disrespect to several segments of our nation. In his appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Khan challenged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to repudiate Trump, but as expected, they have not repudiated, not even close. They have no backbone. Both Ryan and McConnell issued weak and generic statements, the kind they have on file for such occasions and pretended to reprimand Trump without even mentioning his name. How do you reprimand somebody without mentioning their name? This is bizarre and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid could not help but notice the double standard. Reid pointed out that McConnell and other Republicans did not have a problem disavowing former Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri for his “legitimate rape” remark that sunk his senatorial campaign. You’d think Sen. John McCain, a former Prisoner of War would repudiate Trump and take back his endorsement. But no, even McCain, despite a personal insult on him by Trump could not stand up to this bully. He did issue a VERY strong message condemning Trump and to his credit he named Trump. But that’s it.
“I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement,” McCain said. “I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates.”
Really McCain, is that the best you can do? Telling the public not to blame Republicans? What happened to the tell-it-like-it-is maverick? The one who stood up for what is right regardless of political consequences? Where is the McCain who snatched the mic and corrected a lady who stated in public rally that she did not trust Obama because he was an Arab? Psst! Don’t tell anybody: McCain is currently engaged in a tough race to retain his senatorial seat in Arizona and he does not want any undue attention that could cause Trumplicans to rise up against him. So much for the 2008 GOP “Country First” candidate. The reasons for not taking back his endorsement for Trump notwithstanding, McCain, in the matter of Trump, has not shown much leadership courage.
Martin Luther King once said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Republicans need to take heed. Where is VP nominee Mike Pence? Is this ok with his running mate attacks on a Gold Star family? Where is Sen. Tom Cotton, the man who sent a letter to Iraqi Mullahs asking them stop negotiating with President Barack Obama in making the nuclear treaty? Where are all the presidential candidates who ran against Trump, besides Ohio Gov. John Kasich none of them have stood up to Trump. Where is Jeb Bush? has he ceded every inch of his leadership standing to Trump? There is a lot to be said about people in elected office who act in a fearful manner. We have seen what courageous leadership can do, President Abraham Lincoln showed courage in emancipating slaves and this resulted in a better country- what historians call a more perfect union. South Africa’s Nelson Mandela showed a lot of courage and grace when he went against pressure to avenge his imprisonment and created a just South Africa through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that brought about a peaceful transition in a troubled nation. Republicans have blocked several proposals by Democrats and Obama just because it came from Obama. An example is their refusal to hold confirmation hearings to fill Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The lack of courage, independent thinking and putting the country first in the case is baffling.
Evidence of Republican lack of courage in leadership shows in other areas as well. A glaring example is the lack of action in creating sensible gun laws that protect citizens and law enforcement. With each passing day where Congress does not address the issue of creating meaningful gun laws, their lack of courage turns lethal. When a deranged gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary and gunned down 20 children using a semi automatic weapon, the only thing the Republican-controlled congress could offer was a moment of silence. After that they laid low to let the storm pass and then sided with NRA. It is shocking that even the death of children, American children, could not move Republican leadership to muster the courage to do something. When a gunman, killed 5 police officers in Dallas Tx.– an open-carry state, Republicans did not come through for police either. They still sided with NRA and looked for every little reasons to criticize Obama for speaking about the need to balance the security of police and creating a safe environment for citizens, some of whom have been killed by police under questionable circumstances. Republican leaders have deliberately failed to muster the courage to address concerns raised by Black Lives Matter movement, opting instead to counter the movement offensively with calls such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter as was displayed by various speakers in the Republican Convention in Cleveland.
This country is divided not because of Obama’s policies or Clinton’s email fiasco, we are divided because we lack courageous leadership especially on the Republican side. That is the vacuum Trump fills. Republicans need to shake the dust off former President Ronald Reagan playbook of courageous leadership that brought the country together. They need to muster the courage to tell their supporters not to vote for Trump and give them clear directions where to go. It is not enough to just sit there and feign disgust without showing an alternative through clear and sober leadership. As much as I give Texas Senator Ted Cruz some credit for his speech in the RNC where he refused to endorse Trump, his lack of giving his supporters direction on who to vote for displayed political calculation that is tantamount to cowardice. It showed that while Cruz is clear Trump is not fit to be Commander In Chief, he is willing to risk Trump’s ascendance to power as long as he gets his revenge and positions himself strategically to pick up the pieces upon Trump’s inevitable spectacular political demise either as a failed candidate or as president.
It’s time Republicans to show some courage. You cannot have it both ways, your either stand up to Trump and take away your support from him and guide your supporters to vote for somebody else or stand with him and be a part of his vicious lies about everything, demagoguery, xenophobia and divisive politics. Nobody wins if Trump becomes president but history will not be kind to those who vote for him.