At the very least it is far more than a contrast in style.
While I was thinking about this column and the subject matter — President-elect Donald Trump’s Putin problems — I was watching CNN for the latest “breaking news” about the man who will be our next president.
I happened upon a live feed from the White House and a special going-away ceremony for Vice President Joe Biden that President Barack Obama had orchestrated. It was a very nice, well-deserved thank you for the man who brought grace, wit and a working man’s view to the second-highest office in the land. People may disagree with Biden’s politics, but no one can argue his sincerity, his compassion, his patriotism and his love of country.
Then the ceremony took a turn for the better. The president asked his military attaché to step forward to help present Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This award is the highest honor our country can bestow upon a civilian.
As you might imagine, the rest of the event was punctuated by tears, remembrances, stories of the relationship forged between our two leaders and, of course, more tears.
For a sap like me it was the kind of reality television that conjures up the meaning of being a citizen of this country and giving one’s life to public service.
Congratulations, Mr. Vice President, and thank you for your great service to our country.
Now back to the President-elect.
In barely 24 hours, our country has witnessed news reports of unsubstantiated (or not-yet-substantiated) claims of Russian efforts to control our next president; stories claiming that United States intelligence agencies briefed both the president and president-elect about these claims; vehement denials and claims of “fake and phony” news from Mr. Trump’s mouth and his Twitter account about whether or not he was briefed; equally strong denials from the president-elect’s media spokesman in the face of all facts to the contrary; a statement a short time later by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence who, indeed, said the briefing was given as reported and everything CNN reported was true; the singling-out by Trump of a CNN reporter for “special treatment” (which means the silent treatment and the apparent cowardice by the rest of the assembled media who said and did nothing as the First Amendment was being trampled); and a classified briefing with the entire U.S. Senate that proved Russia and Putin interfered with the U.S. election process — ostensibly to turn the voters away from Hillary Clinton and toward Trump.
As if that weren’t enough, Stephen Colbert — the man some say is the 21st century equivalent of Will Rogers without the lariat — spent a lengthy monologue refusing to share the unverified contents of the leaked multi-page memo about just how the Russians had co-opted the president-elect. Nevertheless, he took Trump to task with what can only be described as bathroom humor.
And just before the end of those 24 hours, most of Trump’s secretary-designates during their confirmation hearings created miles of daylight between their positions and their potential new boss’ beliefs. And the Justice Department’s inspector general announced his investigation of FBI Director James Comey’s failure to follow protocol during the election — which very likely impacted Clinton’s viability as a candidate.
Yes, all of that happened in just one day. A day barely a week away from the inauguration of our country’s next president.
President Obama has the style and grace to award his good friend and America’s Vice President Joe Biden the nation’s highest civilian award for a lifetime of service to his fellow man.
After eight years in office, he has the good sense and good taste to go out of office with the same thoughtful and sincere actions that defined him when he entered the White House.
So far, all we have with President-elect Trump is his embrace of America’s enemy, Putin, and his disdain for and failure to comprehend the Constitution — at least the First Amendment.
There is nothing stylish about that. And the contrast is scary.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.