February 10, 2020 9:55:28 AM
Marion Whitley -
It's Sunday morning in New York. Ordinarily I'd be snuggled down with the Times, coffee or watching birds splashing in the last of the rain. But I can't get comfortable. Another coffee won't do it, nor will a glass of juice. I've pushed the paper aside as if it contributes to my discontent, and so it does. So would the TV coverage if I dared go there.
Whereas the president is being charged with obstruction of justice and of congress, my discontent is with a side, but vital issue, the accompanying charges against THE PRESIDENCY! To my knowledge I'm alone in this.
Without a doubt, a quid pro quo was intended in that infamous July phone call. I see the criminality of inviting foreign involvement in our elections, but along with that there's the undeclared "criminality" to THE PRESIDENCY.
From first grade I saluted the stars and stripes with an awakening pride in some "ceremony" I couldn't have explained, but it made me stand taller. I liked being a tiny part of that thing called "patriotism." It made me feel good, and you know what? It's never changed. I have rendered respect to all Presidents, largely assuming they were "good" people, never mind political affiliation. If he was the President, he made speeches on the radio and we gathered 'round to listen. He lived in the White House, from whence cometh the policies that kept me and my family safe. We lived in a Democracy which guaranteed us that safety and respect would follow us wherever in the world we might be.
I felt pride, a kind of participation in having immigrant ancestors, and sought out their ports of departure for the new world. I felt a chill thinking how brave they were facing that ocean... In New York, I found the manifests of the ships on which they sailed. Thanks to them, I was a citizen of the best country in the world. A false pride? Naive? I don't think so, never did.
In childhood, and due to pictures, the safety and pride in being a citizen of the United States, came more from The White House than from the Constitution. Once established in New York, I hastened to bring my parents to the big city, not only for the Empire State Building, riding the subway to a ball game at Yankee Stadium, but for a full day, sleep-over and all, in Washington D.C. to include a guided tour of the White House, itself.
Set aside the question of criminality in withholding military aid to Ukraine, I cry out at the criminality against The OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY! I cry out at calling the Times a "failing" newspaper, at tossing rolls of paper towels to hurricane victims, at the separation of families risking their lives to gain entry to the United States of America. I cry out at the vulgarity of the Access Hollywood tapes, of withheld tax returns, uncountable lies, and the directive to "get rid of her" in recalling our Ambassador from Kiev. That such language, such behavior, fills the halls of the White House, keeps on reaching the ears of world, besmirching the UNITED STATES PRESIDENCY, keeps on undoing my Sunday morning with new foreboding.
While granting the throes around legal definitions of obstruction of justice and of Congress, where are those who also lament the obstruction, the trampling, of truth and common decency? Clearly, that obstruction doesn't reach the threshold of criminality that warrants investigation in light of the greater dangers we're in. But down the road, when Democracy is back on firmer ground and no one is above the law, can we still remember what truth feels like, and stand taller when saluting the flag?
Marion Whitley, who grew up in Caledonia and Columbus, lives in Manhattan where she reads, writes and remembers. Her email address is [email protected]