Give thanks for sane politicians. Former US President Barack Obama delivered a remarkable eulogy at the funeral of civil rights icon John Lewis on Thursday. His theme was Lewis’ best quality, the persistence that drove him to fight for racial justice.
“He knew from his own life that progress is fragile; that we must be vigilant against the darker currents of the history of this country, of our own history, with their whirlpools of violence, hatred and despair that can always resurface. Bull Connor may be gone, but today we see with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of black Americans. George Wallace may be gone, but we can see our federal government dispatching officers to use tear gas and batons against peaceful protesters.
Funeral praise was a balm for the soul, if only because people around the world have heard of a sane former American president. That voice. How calm. Breaks that signaled prevention rather than confusion. The ability to gracefully climb steps to a lectern, to pronounce words correctly. A man had entered a funeral wearing a suit that fit him and a proper tie. What a strange spectacle it was.
President Donald Trump called a press conference around the time Obama was speaking with the aim of not only distracting but preventing his base from watching Obama. Someone must have told him it was a terrible gesture, so he lost his daily stream of hikes later that afternoon.
I was sitting outside under a maple tree thinking about praising Obama and whether persistence would indeed be enough to save a nation that is falling apart. My gentleman opened the back door to tell me that Trump was speaking. Did I want to come back and take notes as usual?
No, I say categorically. I remembered a remark I had read. It had been made another summer, in 1939.
Novelist Virginia Woolf and her husband, political theorist, Leonard, used to listen to Hitler’s “declaimed and delirious” radio speeches. This afternoon Leonard wrote: “I was planting in the orchard under an apple tree iris reticulata, those pretty purple flowers… Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling me from the living room window: ‘Hitler is making a speech “.
I shouted back, “I won’t come. I plant irises and they will bloom long after he dies. “
Leonard Woolf wrote this in his memoir in 1966, 21 years after Hitler’s suicide, adding: “A few of those purple flowers were still blooming under the apple tree in the orchard.
I don’t pretend to sound like Leonard. For one thing, I didn’t plant long-term bulbs, I drank local apple cider and watched a CBC live show while the little boy next door was shooting arrows at me. But I had time to think.
I’m not comparing Trump to Hitler; they have almost no similarity beyond the unconditional worship they both enjoyed until the reality (Red Army / Democrats) begins to tighten. What I’m saying is that Trump’s words are worthless, that life goes on no matter what political catastrophes humans themselves cause, and Americans need a John Lewis level of persistence. to elect Joe Biden and begin to restore and then improve the nation they lost in four years of political carnage.
As for what Canadians need to understand the world at large, it was superhuman patience as worried Ottawans pulled the hay out of this bubble of WE charity. Conservative MPs with ill-chosen backgrounds made a fool of themselves in a virtual finance committee meeting that ended with screams from MPs. It was question period, but in separate houses.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was answering questions, I think in his home office, when committee chair Wayne Easter had a power outage at his house, and the vice-chair, that infamous hard-boiled egg, Tory MP Pierre Poilievre, grabbed his 45 seconds of fame. I’m the president now, he said outside a dark library, so I can ask the prime minister about his mother over and over again.
Trudeau kept his cool. Poilievre, a red-lipped human potato with rimless glasses and a mean expression, was furiously petting a virtual white cat when suddenly the power of Easter returned – I guess the people at Hydro were digging the road again – and everything is back to normal with an angry Bloc A Québécois member.
Poilievre interrogated Trudeau’s unfazed chief of staff Katie Telford, repeatedly interrupting her and snickering like a comic book villain. ” Yes or no. Yes or no. Yes or no. He would make a terrible lawyer, having lost the sympathy of the sandbox jury with his voice, which was fundamentally capricious, and his devious theft of the Easter bucket and spade.
Elizabeth May spoke in front of a quilt I had on my wall at college.
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The day was over. I had seen President Obama (majestic), Bill Clinton (probably shaking at the impending revelations of Ghislaine Maxwell) and George W. Bush (the waterboarder). I saw Trump mumble. I’ve seen Canadian MPs put on a show from their mothers’ basements and even their mothers thought it was bad.
And how was your day?