We are missing our conscience these days
“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you?” — “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel.
What could be a truer depiction of our current national disgrace, agonizing over a phone call between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky. I can offer no critique that would be satisfying to either Democrats or Republicans.
There are only six presidents that can offer perspective regarding this nightmare. Sadly, two, Trump and Zelensky, have no credibility with huge blocs of the American voting public for reasons that are too numerous to list.
Four, however, have sat in the Oval Office and conducted business with foreign leaders: Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama. Each of these distinguished former presidents know from firsthand experience the mechanics, vagaries, idiosyncrasies, delicacies, double-entendres, nuances, emotions, and all the other diplomatic, political and intelligence sensitivities encapsulated in such telephone calls.
Only these four men can speak to the unexpected issues, comments, frustrations, diatribes, commiserations and novelties that arise under the most delicate and unsuspecting circumstances regarding a “congratulatory” phone call.
Elected representatives with not so much as one nanosecond of experience in Oval Office situations have declared or denied the existence of the most serious constitutional crises in our generation. Please, Messrs. Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama, give us a primer on how these calls can straight-line, circle, arc, echo and/or detour into unexpected territory and how each of you navigated such uncharted circumstances.
Can you not find time, among yourselves, to provide introspection, context and magnitude to such calls that each of you carried out as part of your official duties on behalf of the citizens of the United States? Can you not offer to those you served your recollections of discomfort and/or thrill that accompanied such calls constituting a mainstay of your presidencies?
If you are appalled by the Trump/Zelensky call and shocked by its existence, content and unconstitutionality when measured against your diet of such undertakings, then tell us so. If in the Trump/Zelensky call you recognize a semblance of reality on the broad spectrum of normality in conducting foreign relations during shifting and uncertain terrain, then tell us that also.
Reps. Pelosi, Coons, McConnell and McCarthy are no-shows at a crisis forum where wisdom, calmness, perspective and sobriety need to carry the day. Regrettably, we have fools with votes and no sense of how to conduct themselves. Our nation needs your collective, candid assessment of the bounds of normalcy once you have uttered “Congratulations.” We need it now. Please don’t tell us that “Jolt’n Joe has left and gone away” with nothing to say.