Profiles of Courage?

Profiles of Courage? 

By Patrick F. Cannon

Wherein lies political courage? And of what does it consist?

I am an American living in Illinois, and I have been struggling to find answers to these questions. On the national level, we see a once proud political party pathetically trying to rationalize its support for a presumptive presidential candidate who is at least a world class narcissist if not an actual lunatic. For their trouble, they are risking the possible destruction of the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. And why?  Because, presumably, they fear the victory of Hillary Clinton more than the loss of their own souls.

I do not like or respect Hillary Clinton. She has shown, throughout a checkered career, that there is no position she is not willing to change for political expediency (to be fair, she is not unique in this shabby flexibility). Trade policy is only one of many where she has done an about face. Once a supporter – NAFTA, after all, was one of her husband’s triumphs – she has caved in to her party’s left wing and union supporters to oppose free trade policies that have helped reduce extreme poverty in the world from 44 percent in 1980 to 12.7 percent in 2012, according to the World Bank.

Yet, I would vote for her rather than Donald Trump. While she is a cynical opportunist, she is at least an experienced, informed and probably competent opportunist. Like presidents before her, many of her ambitions will be reined in by a recalcitrant Congress. And she will feel free, like most politicians, to forget her campaign promises.

A Trump victory will bring the country into uncharted territory, and if it happens, the Republican establishment will be as guilty as he. Here are the names of just a few of the Republicans who have betrayed their principles by endorsing Trump: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Jeff Sessions, John Boehner, Dick Cheney, Bob Dole, Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rance Priebus (who at least is paid to be a huckster for the party). The honor roll of those who have refused to endorse Trump is shorter: all the Bushes, Mitt Romney, Mark Kirk, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and a few others. Important conservative media figures like George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Joe Scarborough have said they will not support Trump, even though the thought of another Democrat in the White House turns their stomachs.

As to Illinois, the current pickle we’re in is the triumph of hubris over the public interest. While there is plenty of blame to go around, on balance it’s the refusal of the arrogant Speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, to countenance any compromise that would give even the slightest credit to Governor Rauner, whose own arrogance is wearing thin. The Democrat legislators have the power to send Madigan into retirement, but not the guts. I realize that he controls campaign funds, but I sometimes wonder if he isn’t also the J. Edgar Hoover of Illinois politics, with secret files on all of his minions.

All of these messes are the strongest argument I know of for term limits. With them, most of the names I’ve mentioned would be back practicing law in Podunk (perhaps not good news for Podunk, but there you are).

I’m reminded of Britain in 1940, when the failed policies of Neville Chamberlain before and during the early days of World War II had caused Conservative member Leo Amery to rise in Parliament and directly address his own party leader. At the end of his speech, he spoke these words, quoting Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the 17th Century Long Parliament: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”


Copyright 2016, Patrick F. Cannon


13 thoughts on “Profiles of Courage?

  1. The caliber of presidential candidates has been in steady decline for years, to the point where “anyone can grow up to be president in America” has taken on an unexpectedly literal and absurdist sense. I think George H.W. Bush may have been the last respectable president. Since him we have had a hustler (capital H would be appropriate) from Arkansas, an eager but clueless son of privilege, and an affirmative action pseudo academic lefty who has wrought more damage to the character of this country than can easily be appreciated. So now, after a rigged primary on the Democrat side and a circus sideshow of assorted clowns, freaks and acrobats on the GOP side, we have a choice between the venal and vindictive wife of a philanderer, and a blustering and too rich ex-promoter of televised wrestling matches.

    We have no one to blame. As his brother shouted at my Sicilian uncle’s wake, we brought in on ourselves!


    1. I’ve met two presidents more than once — Jimmy Carter, of whom the less said the better, and George HW Bush, who was a gentleman in every way. In Birmingham, I spend perhaps 30 minutes with him before his speech. When I asked him if he would mind having pictures taken with the stage crew (Bob Banas, etc), he said of course. He spoke to each of them, and even made a few little jokes. They were all thrilled. Of course, I forgot to have mine taken! A fine man, in every way.



  2. Pat as I’ve said before I’m not a big follower of politics. Basically they make me sick so I refused to watch, read or listen to anything politically. That said I think you hit the nail on the head with Trump I can’t bring myself to even look at him. As for Hillary, I do like her but I like her for her and not her politics because as I said I don’t know a thing about it. I think it’s said that in this great country of ours we have two lousy candidates and it’s more of a choice with going with who will create the least amount of damage, BTW I’m am neither Republican nor Democrat but I tend to lean more towards the Democrats.
    Keep the Blogs going you do a great job and they are always interesting.


    1. Judy, don’t blame you for not being a follower of politics. I don’t have the pathological fear of Hillary that some conservatives have. Their main fear seems to be that she’ll pack the Supreme Court with a bunch of commies!



  3. Pat, as always, you have hit the nail on the head! I also agree with all other comments, except for one: I don’t understand why Steve feels that President Obama has “wrought more damage to the character of this country than can easily be appreciated.” He has always struck me as a man of strong, honorable character. Do you have examples? I’m not asking because I want to fight with you – I don’t and won’t. I’m just seeking to understand why you feel that way. Thanks.


    1. I’m sure Steve has his reasons. I hope he can find the time to give you a few examples. I would just mention his assumed superiority of intellect. Many legislators, both Democrat and Republican, have commented that he doesn’t discuss, he lectures. But nobody’s perfect!



  4. Initially I thought Obama, even if he didn’t have any executive or leadership experience, would set an example with his manners, his family life, and apparent lack of interest in cashing in on his office. As a black he seemed especially well-suited to improve the condition of African-Americans, economically and socially, and bring people together as he professed he would. Instead, he has done precisely the opposite. He has been an arrogant, petulant, divisive figure who has refused to cooperate with the political opposition, all the while blaming others for his own failures. As for African-Americans, they are actually worse off than they were a decade ago. The state of race relations in the country today speaks for itself.

    His personal character may be okay, the liberal press loves him, but I think his term in office has hurt the country. I have questions about his intellect. He managed to publish nothing, even as editor of the Harvard Law Review. As a former academic, I find this astounding. His (several) autobiographies were ghost-written (one possibly by Bill Ayers). I could go on, but, yeah, I have my reasons!

    As for the big Hillary-Donald showdown, I think I’m going to sit this one out. I really can’t stand her, and as for him……less said the better. There are always three ways to vote, aye, nay, and abstain.


  5. Thanks Pat and Steve. I always like to understand why people feel the way they do.
    We should start a new party for responsible, considerate, intelligent people like ourselves. I do hope and believe there are many of us in this country. Perhaps one truly outstanding, well-qualified candidate would surface in our group! One can always hope.


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