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A new commentary every Wednesday - January 18, 2017

We are in for tumultuous times - Part II

  In a couple of days, we are going to have a new President. This is my last chance to say some things about President Obama and the President-elect, Donald Trump. For the first time since I came of age, I decided I could not vote for either presidential candidate this time.

    As a longtime Republican, I  crossed that party's lines a dozen times since I voted for Harry Truman in 1948. In 2008 I changed my registration to Independent and voted for Barack Hussein Obama. I've always been impressed with well-spoken, well-educated people, such as John and Robert Kennedy, who projected an image of transformative action; of success. The young Congressman Obama was certainly that; educated at Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard, where he was chosen President of that University's prestigious "Law Review." 

    Part of my reason for voting for him to be my President, is because he is black. (Yes, I know he is half-white, but his father's African roots are most evident in his DNA). As the years grind down inexorably to my passing, I have wished to make amends for an act of cowardice. I was a young Army recruit, traveling on a bus to Birmingham from Ft. McClellan Alabama, three days away from a troop ship. I stood by and watched a bus driver throw an elderly black man off a bus...on a rainy, dark November night, a long way from any sign of civilization.

    That night in Alabama, we new, "Damyankee" soldiers had taken up all of seats on the bus. In fact, many of us, myself included, were standing in the aisle, celebrating the end of basic training, when the bus driver put on the brakes and an elderly black gentleman stepped aboard. Someone of us offered the black gentleman a seat near the front of the bus, and after some hesitation, the black man took it.  Seeing this, the driver of the bus jammed on the brakes, opened the door and did not just order the passenger to get off, he cursed him and dragged him to the door and threw him out in the rain.

    Troops were segregated then. Not one of we white soldiers said a word or made an objection, although it stopped our rowdy behavior. 

    As my President said Sunday on CBS's Sixty Minutes, "Even in my lifetime, there have been a lot of changes." Who aboard that bus with me could have imagined in 1944 that one day we would have a black president?  It goes without saying that something tribal and awful lurks in our DNA. We fear the "other," and anything we fear, we hate. Bigotry and raw hatred is irrational. It is self-defeating and it is cruel. 

    I never was more proud of one of my heroes, Senator John McCain, when a woman asked him during the first campaign for the office of President "Isn't he (Obama) an Arab?" Meaning I suppose, a Muslim and a terrorist.  Although they vied for the same office, McCain defended Obama and assured the woman that his rival was a "decent man." 

    I did not vote for Barack Obama when he ran for office the second time, because of his weak position on Syria. He, like many politicians made promises he did not keep. Perhaps it was due to the agony of seeing all of those flag-draped coffins and meeting with the grieving families, but after encouraging the rebels of the Arab Spring, the leader of the Free World failed to institute a No-fly Zone in Syria. He refused to honor a promise and a "redline" threat to Assad. Although the Russians made a deal with the war criminal Assad to stop using gas on his people, Assad kept slaughtering them and inexplicably, was joined by Russia in doing so.

     A vacuum had come into being and it was quickly filled by the Arab State, Russia and Iran. As a result, millions of refugees fled the killing grounds. Thousands perished in Aleppo, hundreds, perhaps thousands drowned in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas and many millions more began a terrible exodus into Europe, in part because America, the leading country of the free world, did not lead. Worse, we backed down from a gang of bullies.

     Donald Trump is going to be my President and I promise to honor the office—but not the man. Let me just say that his shameless portrayal of a reporter with a spastic disorder, and his refusal to admit that he did, is reason enough for me to oppose him. I know a bully when I see one.

    Please tell me when he has overcome a massive conflict of interest by agreeing to a genuine blind trust that will put a firewall between the presidency and his business interests. The free world may not survive a business partnership of Trump and Vladimir Putin.

    Finally, the Donald has refused to release his tax returns, because then we would know just how brilliant and how successful the Wizard of Oz. the man behind the curtain, really is.

    In any event, We editorialists are going to have a field day, while in Trumpestan.

-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken


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