Columnist Jim Cahillane: ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’

  • Sticks now mark the path of the Berlin Wall, which fell almost 26 years ago. CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA TNS/Michaela Urban

Published: 7/16/2019 8:15:03 AM

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel railed against walls of all kinds in this year’s Harvard commencement, she knew her subject.

Merkel was born, raised and educated in East Germany. After the Berlin Wall was built, in 1961, she could only wonder about democracy on the other side. Her nation’s brain drain had been halted, but at what price? Merkel’s rise to lead a united Germany is an inspiring story.

Did we really need her to tell us what we already know?

Our glorious president came down an escalator to begin his initial campaign speech with a rant against Mexicans. His attitude toward our southern neighbors hasn’t changed one whit since. A wall is his answer to every problem. Trump tariffs are one more wall in answer to immigration and trade issues requiring negotiation, not abuse of presidential power.

His hammer is applied to every visible nail, as if one-note thinking is going to produce a symphony, rather than discord around the world. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows he’s wrong, and yet The Grand Old Party of Republicans lies supine at his feet, like a dog in training. To say that they’re an embarrassment to history and a proud America is redundant.

I regret if mentioning what a sorry mess we’ve made in voting for a con man, liar, morally bankrupt and faux-patriot offends some — but I no longer find any solace in keeping my peace. Trump’s rallies echo those of the 1930s, as filmed by Leni Riefenstahl in “Triumph of the Will.”

This year is half over, and TV, newspapers and commentators daily tell us what’s being done to our Constitution. Whenever legal eagles get their eyes on DJT, he distracts with misdirection, like a leprechaun hiding his pot of gold, which may be the best Trump metaphor I’ve found so far.

The Mueller report took more than two years and thousands of interviews to nail down Russian disinformation campaigns in our elections from 2016 right up to today. Mr. “No collusion, no obstruction” has met his match — burning questions are aflame.

The report clearly states that Mueller could not say obstruction did not occur. Trump apologists say Attorney General William Barr came to that conclusion, not Mueller. Which do you believe — a two-years proctologic exam by Mueller or bar-the-door Barr?

If it’s the latter, tune in when Mueller testifies in open session before House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Russian interference in our elections was not and is not a joke! This oddball president dishonors his office, our citizens and American democracy by cozying up to the world’s dictators! Mueller will open many eyes by just reading his report in this time of video-clip wisdom.

The late Sen. John McCain was a true American hero for the years spent in North Vietnam’s “Hanoi Hilton,” taking daily beatings and staying, despite an offer of release, because imprisoned buddies were not included. This son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals paid a high price by refusing to be used for propaganda.

Ever after, his damaged arms could not be raised above his head.

Trump’s scurrilous statement that he liked people “who weren’t captured” would have earned him a barracks beating if it wasn’t for spurious bone spurs that kept him far from Vietnam. To have White House toadies ask the Navy to move the destroyer John S. McCain from presidential sight during his Japan visit was — in every sailor’s vocabulary — chicken s--t.

How devious can one man-child be? Let’s hasten to count the ways. Trump’s most handy version of “wall” is that river in Egypt we’ve all heard about: denial. Did you cavort with those women Attorney Cohen paid off for you — nope! Denial. And what of the campaign video of you asking the Russians “if you’re listening” to hack candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails? I never! The hacking of the Democratic Campaign Committee began that very day. The Washington Post kept count of President Trump’s lies until reaching a total of 10,000 falsehoods in just over two years — then gave up.

TV’s Judge Judy: “The way to tell teenagers are lying is when their lips are moving.” If you’re unaware of Trump’s capacity for lying, use Judge Judy’s rule and stop kidding yourself about our prevaricator in chief.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke movingly about freedom at the Berlin Wall, identifying himself with West Germany’s gallant citizens. President Ronald Reagan also stood at the Brandenburg Gate, demanding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That was in June 1987. Wonder of wonders, two years later, the wall came down.

A January New Yorker cover portrayed Trump building a wall atop his Oval Office desk, barbed wire on top. All walls are breached by time. Too bad this real-estate guy never read a book. To be unaware of the past and deny facts defines Donald Trump’s infamy.

Harvard’s 2019 graduates received powerful guidance from Chancellor Merkel: “Tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness, for nothing has to stay as it is.”

Opinion columnist Jim Cahillane stipulates his columns are his and his alone — relishing the challenge to inform and, at times, amuse readers.


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