For several minutes, Senator Bob Dole, wheelchair bound, sat in silence before the body of President Bush. His jaws clenched repeatedly; he might have been chewing gum. He watched unblinking, thinking, no doubt, of his old friend, of war.
And then an aide helped him up and out of the wheelchair, and Dole, for a split second, with support from two men, stood ramrod straight and saluted with trembling fingers, George H. W. Walker Bush.
I literally bawled out loud. This moment should have been the wakeup call for Republicans who have lost their way. Senator McConnell and his Ayn Rand-loving ilk should have come here and asked Bush and Dole for forgiveness. Begged for forgiveness. And resigned immediately. And left the rotunda with honor.
Only then, could I forgive them. For only now will a revolution restore order in a house of obsequiousness, of japery: of madmen.
I remember young Bob Dole, pencil clenched in his fist, acerbic wit, flawed like the rest of us, loyal to a fault to his country, to its people. I remember George H. W. Bush, on “Saturday Night Live,” mocking himself, graceful and gracious. I remember these two men, with our fathers, facing the long day’s journey into the night of Europe and Japan, and they went forward, and they served. And yes, our troops were segregated, and only a few of our fathers came home and told us that secret, that segregation and Jim Crow infected us even in the trenches.
But they went forward. And our black fathers and brothers went forward.
Names like Nixon and Trump and Father Coughlin and McCarthy and Cohn, and now Gingrich and Hannity and Coulter and Huckabee, are affronts to decency, patriotism, world citizenry.
Bob Dole must have awakened this morning, having told his aides that he would stand and salute or die trying. He had a packed resume filled with “die trying” moments. There must have been muttering, over coffee, and venting about Mad King Donald. Millions of mourners, this morning, respecting the wishes of the House of Bush, must have also pledged to not let their feelings get the best of them: this was the day to honor and respect.
It is like meditation, willing a trance state to blot out myriad dark thoughts, to nerve block national pain, to remember the heroes, and to not mock the human viruses of our House, which are trying to subjugate us.
Republicans in North Carolina and Wisconsin and Michigan, even as a great Republican lies in state, are subverting the law, to steal the power of votes, to still resonant voices. They are doing this on our day of mourning. They should be dragged outside and put in stocks and let the winter shred their effrontery, let the gods of wind shriek in their ears.
In North Dakota, on this day, Ruth Buffalo, a Native American in full tribal dress, was sworn in to her state government. The pols standing behind her worked tirelessly to subvert the Indian vote. Yet, she did not gloat. She said she was ready to go to work.
In Southern Illinois, on this day, in the name of my fallen brother Ted Shobe, I am ready to go to work. In Upstate New York, on this day, my cousin Janet is ready to go to work. In Wisconsin, my brothers Fred and John, on this day, are ready to go to work. In Milwaukee, on this day, my sister Martha is ready to go to work. In Portland, Oregon, on this day, my brother James is ready to go to work. In Golconda, Illinois, on this day, my sister Liz is ready to go to work. In Florida, on this day, my brother Don is ready to go to work. In Elsah, Illinois, on this day, my sister Sheila S. is ready to got to work. In Jackson, Tennessee, on this day my brother Paul Jacobson and sister Vicki Stedman Pope are ready t go to work.In Atascadero, California, on this day, my brother David Mulvey is ready to go to work.
On this day, let us pause and give thanks for every decent human on earth whom faced adversity and persevered. Let us all praise President George H. W. Bush and Senator Bob Dole. Let us all plead for the silent Christians, who will not denounce the charlatans speaking for them, to find their moral voice.
Never: was a fight won with inaction, with blindness, with fear. Rise up, my loved ones. Sharpen your words
The time is now.