We must applaud political courage

Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, said the briefing by the White House on the assassination of the Iranian Soleimani, was not just poor, but the worst of briefings. I applaud their political courage to push back on the president for less than satisfactory explanation. I have called each Senator to share my thank you as an Independent and former Republican voter.

I had the same type of kudos for the parade of diplomats and other public servants who testified under oath and at great risk to the House Intelligence committee about their concerns over the shadow diplomacy being used by the president in Ukraine to strong arm action for his personal benefit. I watched these witnesses speak under oath about how we should be doing our best to nurture and protect the young democracy in Ukraine. On the flip side, I saw a president, not under oath, berate these public servants for being less than truthful, without really addressing the need to protect the interests of Ukraine.

Political courage seems to be in short supply these days. At the same time the two Senators were sharing their concerns, a US Congressman was being questioned for the release of a doctored photograph. The intent of the photograph which showed the preceding president shaking hands with the current Irani president, whom he has never physically met, seems to be less than meritorious. Yet, when questioned, the Congressman was flippant and disdainful of the reporter.

Unlike the two Senators’ political courage, the act and the response by the Congressman is poor form. We need our legislators to be among our better Angels, not our worst demons. With it so easy to disinform these days, we need our legislators to avoid such temptation, and to condemn it even when it is done on their behalf. We all must be truth seekers.

I am reminded of the late Senator John McCain, when running for president in 2008, correcting a woman when she attacked the character of Barack Obama. He told her that Obama was a fine person, but he and Obama just disagreed on issues and policies. I miss the Senator and his political (and military courage). We need to emulate him and the recent actions of Senator Lee and Paul.

Three simple questions

With the building impeachment story of abuse of power based on the testimony of honorable and decent public servants, there are three questions to ask Republican lawmakers.

– why is the president operating shadow diplomacy led by an unvetted (by the Senate) person?

– is the person in the White House someone you want to spend your dear reputation on?

– what will you have to defend or rationalizs next week, next month and next year and do you even know whether he has already committed the act needing your defense?

Respected commenters Mark Shields and David Brooks noted in their weekly recap on PBS Newshour last night, the corruption we should be worried about is not in Ukraine – it is in the White House. Using Mike Pompeo as an example of spending a dear reputation, they vilifed Pompeo for his disgracing his Marine training of letting the troops eat first, by not defending his people.

I agree. A real leader defends his or her people, not throw them under the bus. Sadly, Pompeo is following his boss’ example. Trump will throw anyone under the bus for any reason, perceived or real.

Sober and bigger questions for White House actions

To me, judging sober testimony from an entertainment vantage point shows poorly. I found Messers. Kent and Taylor credible, honorable, duty-bound and courageous. The context they offered was helpful. I am proud we have public servants like these gentlemen. I also think when Taylor answered a question saying what the president did was “wrong,” that actually resonated with a few Republicans. We should not forget these people have testified under oath, one that it appears they take seriously.

Yet, a point made near the end should be highlighted. The aid was not released until after the whistleblower issue was made public and there waa bipartisan frustration with the president. Mr. Nunes and friends need to be reminded of this point and Taylor’s point that what the president did was wrong.

A huge question should be asked and asked again. Why is president Trump asking Rudy Guiliani to run a shadow diplomacy? Even if Guiliani was Gandhi, he has not been vetted by the Senate. There is an even bigger issue of which this is a part. Other countries do not know who speaks for America. Those are not my words. These words come from other countries’ diplomats. This creates chaos and mistrust.

It matters not the party of the president. What he is doing is “wrong.” He needs to be held accountable even if it does not lead to his removal from office. It is that important.