cowardly lion

Once again, Trump has shown his true colors, dispatching the intelligence inspector general in the middle of the night. If it were not for the Congressional protocol for firing an inspector general, Michael Atkinson would, like others cast off by Trump, learned about his fate through Twitter. In his case, the news came via a late-night letter to the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress as required by law. His firing comes on the heels of the removal of Captain Crozier, the commander of the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, on the basis that a letter he wrote complaining about the failure of the Navy to allow him to care properly for his crew, facing the risk of the corona virus in the cramped quarters of the ship. The letter was leaked, but by an unknown source.

These and other dismissals and insults are completely inappropriate, to say the least, given that they came after an act presumably done to protect the integrity of our system of laws or the safety of individuals. But they are also cowardly, a personality trait that is absolutely wrong in someone holding our highest office. Cowards, typically, run away from situations that demand to be confronted head-on. Cowardice obviates the ability to honor the oath of office on behalf of all human beings that constitute the American polity.

But the President is not the only coward among our political leaders and servants. The Congress and Administration is populated by so many who fail to acknowledge behaviors that they obviously do not condone or know that it is simply wrong. Lawyers may term such acts as malfeasance, a fancy word, but cowardice does a better job.

Cowardice spreads beyond the government to anyone who knowingly deals in falsehoods, lies, or “alternate facts.” Other pejorative labels also apply, but it is their cowardice to face up to what they know to be true that is stunning to me. If they do not know that facts always ultimately create the future, then they should not be in positions of authority or influence in the first place. Except for the President, who does not seem to understand how the real world works, most of these other cowards do, and that makes their actions even more egregious and despicable.

Finally, by far the number of cowards among us, are all the rest of us that accept the words and acts of the above without the merest question. I am not speaking of holding differing opinions and beliefs and acting accordingly. That is the foundation of our democratic way of life, or, more precisely, is supposed to be our way. Cowardice is manifest in inaction and in mindless acts that come in spite of awareness of their falsity or inappropriateness.

Our coward-in chief has sullied the majesty of the office, by mistaking “majesty” with a small “m” for “Majesty” with a capital “M.” The damage to the polity is immense in terms of real effects on the citizenry and on the institutions that preserve our democracy and rule of law. Right now, faced with the ravaging corona virus, a threat of still unfolding magnitude, Trump continues to act cowardly when decisive, gutsy action is critical. Taking credit for events and outcomes that were shaped by others is another form of cowardice. The chickens will eventually come home to roost. Let’s hope that they do not carry another deadly virus.