WOW. I’m tempted to end it there, maybe with a dozen more of them, followed by a few paragraphs of exclamation points as our country, at least those of us watching and absorbing the awful spectacle unfolding in front of our eyes and ears, takes its collective breath and returns, yet again, to the awful question facing us: Can the sordidness and corruption coursing through every vein of Donald Trump’s misbegotten presidency possibly get any worse, and possibly offer any more clear and compelling evidence for why he is so manifestly, perfectly unfit to be the kind of leader we need and deserve?
As clearly devoted and decent as Deputy Secretary George Kent and Ambassador William Taylor showed themselves to be on Wednesday in exposing the multiple ways President Trump has undermined American interests in pursuing Ukrainian assistance in bringing down Joe Biden, it remained for Taylor’s predecessor, the deposed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, to give searing, heart-rending voice to just how deeply the president’s actions in Ukraine cut into all that has historically bound and reflected us as a nation.
The beacon that we have been, the power for good we have projected, the hands we have offered, the stability we have ensured through times dark and devastating, flawed though it sometimes has been as the humans we are: All of it gone to flame in the Donald Trump era.
Nothing exposed this more than the exquisite, measured testimony of Yovanovitch, even as the president continued, during her testimony, his ill-fated attempts to besmirch her reputation via his favorite bludgeon of Twitter.
One grasps for adequate descriptors that apply to the rot at the heart of this administration, and the half-formed human who is leading it and our country to the very edge of despotism and ruin. But it is perhaps only through Messrs. Taylor and Kent, and most assuredly Ms. Yovanovitch, and the unremitting decency they individually and collectively project, that we can boil the matter down to just that word:
Is Donald Trump even remotely a decent human being?
And does every nation not need and deserve at least that as a fundamental bedrock of leadership, upon which we can weather the storms that come with every human collective and its competing visions for the common good?
I will not catalog here the mountain of indecent, by any measure, utterances and actions that suggest Donald Trump does not pass that elementary test of leadership. Forget the policies, whatever complaints he and fellow conservatives may have about liberal overreach and the nanny state, whatever positions they may hold on how best to fire up an economy or deal with China or forgive (or not) student debt. Etcetera.
On all these matters and much more, differences of opinion are the engine that begets the incremental change our Founders designed to result, over time, in a better, more just society, not easily given to the whims of temporal desires and events. But those differences must exist among people of more or less equal commitment to goodwill, common courtesy and sincere exchange.
Over and over, Donald Trump has shown himself to lack even a vestige of those qualities. Yes, I disagree with most all his policies, but that is not and has never been the fundamental problem underlying the Trump presidency. It is not his policies but his person, his comportment, his basic lack of human decency as he tears to shreds, in the most personal, vicious terms, all who would oppose him, that sends the destructive message it does to virtually the entire world.
It is that comportment, that enfeebled personhood, that was held up to clear light this week as we beheld what its opposite looks like in the testimony of three surpassingly decent government servants. The contrast could not have been greater.
May God help us as we weather all that still lies ahead.
As Ms. Yovanovitch suggested from a completely different context yesterday: sometimes words fail. And by sheer grace if nothing else, music stands always at the ready to fill the void…
Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.
Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.
Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tree and park photos by Andrew Hidas https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/