June 18, 2024

evil that men do lives after them

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
“The evil that men do lives after them”
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — Before he was elected president, John F. Kennedy published “Profiles in Courage” detailing the stories of  eight U.S. senators who had stood up against prevailing political winds to do what was right, enduring harsh criticism and loss to put country over party and personal ambition.
          Kennedy’s book came to mind as we watched the latest Republican primary results in South Carolina, where five-term Rep. Tom Rice lost to a Trump-endorsed challenger. Rice is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the ex-president, and he did not back down even when it became apparent that Trump would exact his revenge.
           “Win, lose or draw, I did the right thing, and I know I did the right thing,” he said. “I can’t think of any president who has ever done anything worse in terms of government,” Rice said.
          The primaries were the first since the 1/6 House Select Committee began airing its evidence that President Trump “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” in the words of Committee vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy.
          A current profile in courage, she has been unflinching in standing up to her party’s leadership and her own electorate, where she faces Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman, who is running on the Big Lie that Trump was cheated out of his reelection in 2020.
          However, Hageman’s campaign strategist is Bill Stepien, who told the 1/6 Committee Trump’s claim of fraud in the election was baseless.
          Cheney’s popularity in Wyoming is 26 percent, and her only hope of prevailing in the August GOP primary is for Democrats to cross over and vote for her, which the state allows.
          A Washington Post analysis found that more than 100 GOP primary winners back Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged. The number one source of this misinformation comes from Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns Fox News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal. A naturalized citizen who was born in Australia, Murdoch is doing more harm to this country under the guise of the First Amendment than any of the demagogues of the last century.
          History shines brightly on those who stood up during the McCarthy era when Hollywood writers were ostracized for alleged communist ties. They took Dalton Trumbo’s name off his movies, but he won the test of time, and that’s what Cheney will do.
           “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” Cheney said at the outset of the hearings. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” 
          Her words are reminiscent of Shakespeare’s in the play, Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.”
          There won’t be wholesale acceptance of what the 1/6 Committee is asserting, but in a country where 40 percent of the electorate likes Trump, they’re not all diehards who would follow him even if he shot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue, as he once asserted.
          The people who are not diehards and are open to persuasion are a small percentage of the Trump base, but in a country as divided as ours, small margins are everything. That truth is currently being demonstrated in the U.S. Senate where 10 Republicans have joined a bipartisan deal for gun reform and regulation, breaking a 30-year logjam over legislation addressing gun violence and school shootings.
          Liz Cheney is in political peril because she has taken on Trump in a state where he is wildly popular, but she would rather lose her seat than surrender her soul, and for this her country is grateful.
          See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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