Making mincemeat of a commentarian

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I’ve been using a computer I haven’t turned on since the early winter of 2017. I scanned through my documents from then to see what I’d saved from a season of unbelievable presidential campaign and its aftermath. Several of the columns I published at that time had to do with a man running for President of the United States who, shockingly to everyone including him, won the job.

In one of those columns I compared that man to Hitler. They came out about even.
In another column I compared a couple of his quotes to one or two of Shakespeare’s. The Bard won hands down because he had a better vocabulary.

In another I compared the crowd at his inauguration to our crowd the next day at the Women’s March. We won as the single biggest demonstration in D.C. in U.S. history despite untrue boasts of the numbers the day before.

But, as surprising as his win, what the 45th president has done for this country is to rally us around the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Press. There is interest across the land in preserving these institutions, and many citizens are out here fighting who never would have dreamed of doing so before; or having to do so. This behavior is not nationalism, it is not even patriotism; it is simple love for a country founded on liberty and justice for all.

We have not always measured up to our high-minded goals, but the goals remain nonetheless. They were revolutionary 250 years ago when first agreed upon; in many places around the globe they are as hopeful, and as bothersome, today. After the many words said and the many compromises agreed to as our forefathers cobbled together a government, the world was dumbfounded by the new ideas of humaneness and decency backed by the courage to set it all down in a document that has since annoyed totalitarians and inspired common people everywhere.

With a totalitarian at the helm and little inspiration in his wake, I’ve been the recipient of memorable correspondence from a few commoners in other places.

A friend in Canada has retracted her message of condolence to me from a year and a half ago and is now asking me testy questions having to do with threats of tariffs. A friend in Italy thinks the shenanigans of her former Prime Minister Berlesconi, accused of tax fraud and sex scandals, was a tame precursor to our leader. Two of my friends who in January of 2017 fled the country for a quiet village in Mexico send emails describing their peaceful life devoid of minute-by-minute Tweet bulletins. Another friend just off a months-long trip around the world on the Queen Mary said, “Lots of people in lots of ports aren’t too fond of the Stars and Stripes anymore.”

The last political column I reread was about relief – my relief that the campaign was over and I wouldn’t have to listen to threats and braggadocio anymore.

Sigh.

The thing about putting one’s thoughts on paper for others to read can be embarrassing. Time and politicians are apt to make mincemeat of the words of a talking head.

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