About 900 columns ago, I stared at my very first blank, white page for Chatterbox. It was easy to write that first column. We talked about new endeavors. We talked about seizing the day whether life gave us those opportunities or we made them for ourselves.
Two things strike me today as I stare at yet another blank, white page on my computer screen. First, that each of us can see every new day as an opportunity for expression. Regardless of whether we do the right thing, make a mistake, or launch a major fail, whether the victories or defeats are ours or someone else’s, and regardless of their impetus, nature, or outcome – we learn from every action … at least, we should learn.
The second thing that struck me was that, some days, that doesn’t happen. Some days the blank page isn’t welcoming and offers no shelter or comfort. As we are each visible to some degree, every new page is a wonderful opportunity, yes, but, also, a responsibility. For me, some days the sheer expectation of the naked page is exhilarating. Other days it’s just intimidating. Still other days it forces my back to the wall to state the obvious.
As we’ve discussed before, Chatterbox has always tried to be as fair and well-researched as possible, and prudent, but truthful. Its goal is to offer food for thought or to initiate a conversation that may show, or even yield, a new viewpoint.
My personal endeavor, every week, couldn’t help but be changed by time. I used to write about autumn leaves, but we’ve all survived much since that October in 2002, as a nation, a people, a community, as a newspaper family and as individuals. The world has changed, and we’ve all matured, which altered our attitudes as we gained new perspectives and broadened old ones.
The front of my Chatterbox business card has a quote by Thomas Jefferson: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” Too much private power and corporate ownership has created many cracks in the foundation of that free press, that “gentlemen’s agreement.” Distributing the truth instead of altered and enhanced versions is preciously guarded by genuine news media, and for those of us who seek the truth with our own eyes and ears, technology has made the evidence easily accessible in America, for now.
So, making my blank page heel today, even in my reluctance, we must examine what is blatantly obvious, and ask why such ineptness and indiscretion to the propriety and the norm, by our leadership, are being ignored by so many. These have intense fallout, both here in America as well as in our standing around the world. Those who criticize it would prefer it wasn’t so, but there’s that blank page again, and that responsibility.
President Trump mocked a disabled American; why wasn’t he stopped there? He, a draft-dodger, mocked John McCain’s behavior as a prisoner of war and insulted the parents of a veteran killed in Iraq. He hollered at a rally crowd, “Get him (a dissenter) the hell out of here,” repeatedly. His numerous sexual insults toward women are documented. We hear him telling one young reporter, “I’m the president and you’re fake news,” and telling another, after he, himself, misunderstood her remark, “I know you’re not thinking. You never do.” He violates the U.S. code on nepotism and the emoluments clause, and these are a few tips of many icebergs. He remains supported by so many who let his assault slide, but these issues must be addressed.
He uses foul language in public speeches, brandishes his presidential power like a weapon, insults elected leaders of foreign countries while cajoling dictators of others for personal gain, and it’s ignored. Now, in a deadly pandemic, with a fairly comparable precedent to guide him, he fails to take the steps to handle it. He dragged his heels on creating and distributing supplies and, now, puts the economy and his re-election above the health and safety of the American people.
Every issue a power game, his indiscretions are factual, traceable and easily validated. His critics aren’t launching vendettas; they’re demanding presidential leadership, strength, decorum and truth.
Certainly, no president before him was innocent of all things, but none was this inept or stubborn either. Lost by sheer volume, this and more must be addressed before our nation isn’t just pitied around the world, but something worse.
These are not things I type onto my white page flippantly, but hard truths about our languishing nation.