On July 28, 2020, President Trump sat for a 37 minute interview with Jonathan Swan. It aired last week on HBO and should be required for anyone voting in the November election (probably unconstitutional). If you missed it, click here.
I’ve never seen the election of Donald Trump as some sort of nationwide sickness like some. He seems more like a symptom to me of a general distrust and disappointment resulting from a perceived failure of the institutions we hold dear: things like government, organized religion, and the media. Are any of these institutions worse than they were 25, 50 or 100 years ago? Probably not, as they’ve always been hit and miss at best. What really baffles me is how we’ve expanded our distrust in the era of Trump so that it now includes science. That’s weird. But I digress.
I’ve watched the entire interview twice now and parts of it many times. Obviously, I don’t have much to do right now, as my tomato, squash, pepper, cantaloupe, watermelon and grape crops are requiring almost no work, and I’ve painted everything around here that isn’t moving. If you are planning to watch the interview, I don’t want to ruin it, but there is one part that was particularly poignant. Swan asked the President how he thought Congressman John Lewis would be remembered by history. Trump’s response was, “I don’t know, I really don’t know. I don’t know…I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration.”
Contrast that with the words of President George W. Bush. You may remember that Lewis boycotted his inauguration as well, and generally treated Bush with disdain and disrespect. I love what David French recently wrote about this for “The Dispatch.”
“Speaking of Christian charity, I’d urge you all to watch George W. Bush’s brief eulogy at Lewis’s memorial service. It pays proper tribute to Lewis, without keeping any record of personal wrongs. Lewis, remember, famously boycotted Bush’s first inauguration. This is how to lay down partisan differences to celebrate the best memories of a great man:”
I’d encourage you to click here to watch W’s eulogy. It got little air time, as it lacked the political fireworks of Obama’s partisan remarks. It’s worth 6 minutes and is ripe with humility, empathy, forgiveness, humor, faith in the Lord and love—qualities that could make us a great nation.
I think I’ll end this ramble with an exert from the poem “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes (1902-1967), as I believe it captures the aspirations of men like John Lewis and George W. Bush.
O, let America be America again— The land that never has been yet— And yet must be—the land where every man is free.