What Presidents Look Like

Last Thursday the last 3 presidents plus a message from a fourth honored John Lewis and reminded us what presidents look like. WaPo covered it well.

George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton put on masks and traveled to Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to say goodbye to a civil rights leader and Democratic House member who preached change, progress and hope. Donald Trump stayed home, spending the morning watching TV and tweeting, holding fast to his program of conflict, nostalgia and restoration.

Not one of the three former presidents mentioned his absent successor, yet each seemed to have him very much in mind:

“John Lewis always looked outward, not inward,” Bush said.

Clinton said that Lewis “was here on a mission that was bigger than personal ambition.”

And Obama said of Lewis that “he believed in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves.” A few minutes later, to hit that note even harder, Obama said the very same words, one more time.

The former presidents deployed classic rhetoric — quotations from Scripture, powerful silences and sweet allusions to Lewis’s grace and humility — to describe how he earned a respect, and therefore a power, for which others shout in vain.

We don’t see that anymore- except at funerals. Pity.


61 thoughts on “What Presidents Look Like”

  1. huffpo:

    President Donald Trump’s latest campaign talking point is a promise to keep low-income housing out of America’s suburbs, a vow that’s been slammed for its overt racism

    “Oh my. I mean, it’s not even a dog whistle anymore,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote on Twitter. “Our president is now a proud, vocal segregationist.” 

    But as “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver explained on Sunday night, there’s been a long and tortured path to this moment. Racism, he said, has pervaded American history for centuries in ways rarely taught in school, and that lack of education has only helped to perpetuate it. 

    “A history of America that ignores white supremacy is a white supremacist history of America,” Oliver said.

    Then, he shared some of Rep. John Lewis’ last words on the importance of understanding our history, all of it:

  2. I thought Oliver was excellent last night. The man is seriously insightful. 
    WaPo is reporting this morning that Joe has extended his VP decision window by as much as 2 more weeks. The trumpkins are screeching about it and are shooting criticism at Karen Bass and are leaving the others alone for the most part. I’d like to know, but if it keeps trumpies thrashing about, I can wait a little longer (as if I have a choice).

  3. Why is no one even mentioning that whoever it is that Biden picks for veep is likely to be the next president?  Not just the “heartbeat away” scenario, but the possibility he might decide to retire midterm just for the hell of it.  Also, he probably will be a one term president, so the  veep will be fighting the next racist the greedy old perverts put up in 2024.  This is one of the first presidential elections where the vice-president does  make a major difference.

  4. Ms. B, excellent point. To his credit I am of the impression that Joe is not trying to pick a running mate who can deliver Florida.

  5. I mentioned it awhile back, noting that Joe was aware that he was about to pick the next president.  It’s a weighty choice.

  6. bbronc, by “no one” you mean the TV pundit talking heads?  some probably worried they’ll be seen as attacking/dissing the aged. 

     if you mean trail mixers, most of us have been alluding to joe’s likely truncated term.  for example my comment last thread last night in case you missed it:

     about joe (77) not making it through his 1st term and vp warren (70) is there to step in, she will choose a younger and well qualified person (say someone like  cory booker or kamala harris or stacy abrams) as her VP.  if lizzie does a good job and still with it at 74 she can run again.  if she’s not up to it, gets sick or just doesn’t want to run i have confidence in her judgement that she’ll pass on the torch with gusto.   

    why is it okay for men like trump at 74 and biden at 77 to run for prez but not for a woman like warren at 70 or bass at 66?

  7. it’s more important that whoever is veep is able to immediately be seen as a leader and capable on day one.  much much more important than how good a campaigner in the 2024 election.  just get us thru the current mess, ma’am,  we’ll work on the tomorrows later. 

    i see the next veep as a one termer anyway no matter who she is. too many changes will occur for the country and the world between 2020 and 2024.

  8. our goal for now is like lonesome dove’s 

    Jake Spoon:
    “… just trying to get through the territory without getting scalped, that’s all.”

  9. I do mean the media talking heads.  It is the high school prom queen decision.  Who is mean.  Who is prettiest.  Who told the teacher about smoking weed in the woods.  Who is the teachers pet.  But, that is what is happening with a delay in announcement.  Speculation is what talking heads do.  Facts mean change the subject.

  10. Nobody will be sorry to see tRUMP pass on except the brown shirts and the white sheets.  Will Poo-tin send flowers? 

  11. I order of POTUS-readiness, I rank them as follows: 
    The End

  12. more eager than anyone to hear who joe picks is the Rump’s campaign who is salivating to launch an assault. perhaps joe delaying the announcement but hinting at this one and that one ferrets out what dirt they will throw.  it also keeps the GOPers distracted with going down unnecessary rabbit holes looking for opposition muck to rake.  

  13. 'Congress' Is Not Flailing. Republicans Are. With whom, exactly, are the Democrats supposed to negotiate here in Bedlam?

    No, goddammit, Washington Post, Enough of this nonsense. “Congress” is not flailing. The Republican majority in the Senate is flailing, because the Republican majority is made up of Republicans, and the Republican Party is made up of hyper-ambitious lunatics. It’s not “Congress” that’s stiffing the millions of Americans who need relief in this perilous time of tangled national emergencies that are feeding off each other. It’s the Republicans. Why is that so hard to say?

  14. tony, i agree with that writer about wapo’s misleading and broad brush blame of “congress” instead of clearly accusing the senate republican majority and specifically mitch mcconnell.     the house passed a comprehensive bill and sent it to the senate in may.   wapo should be ashamed.

  15. How the Pandemic Defeated America A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.

    Even after warnings reached the U.S., they fell on the wrong ears. Since before his election, Trump has cavalierly dismissed expertise and evidence. He filled his administration with inexperienced newcomers, while depicting career civil servants as part of a “deep state.” In 2018, he dismantled an office that had been assembled specifically to prepare for nascent pandemics. American intelligence agencies warned about the coronavirus threat in January, but Trump habitually disregards intelligence briefings. The secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, offered similar counsel, and was twice ignored.

  16. Pat, yes, that writers need to “both sides” is so clear. I’m tired of the nonsense. Nancy and Dems in the House do their job.

  17. ‘Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base’: Key swing state slips away from Trump Trump has trailed in every public poll in Pennsylvania since June.

    “Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base and their Fox News viewers the way going after Hillary and Nancy Pelosi and AOC do,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle, who endorsed Biden the day he launched his 2020 campaign. “You can make certain assumptions and wonder why that is. Is gender a factor? Is race a factor? I don’t know. I have certain suspicions.”

  18. Doesn’t take much slipping for Joe to pick up PA.  SFB won PA by 44,292 votes, which is .72% of under 6 million voters.  A couple of events (however they’re planning to hold them) in the Philly and Pittsburgh areas should lock it down for Joe.

  19. Pogo…  it’s amazing how much W has come up in even Dems opinion when compared to trumpy.
    My druthers for VP is Tammy Duckworth.  I think she would do an awesome job of trashing the gop.
    Warren doesn’t appeal to me at all.  In the Massachusetts primary for prez she came in 5th.  IMO, that speaks volumes of what her constituents thought her chances were against trump.

  20. The media for the most part is just as much to blame as the lame goopers.  It’s easier to paint everyone with the same false equivalency then to do their job

  21. BTW, 538 is showing Joe at 8.3 nationally (down about 1.3 points from his largest margin in early July, up by 8 in MI, 6.6 in PA, 7 in WI, and 3.9 in AZ, 5.9 in FL, .6 in TX, 6.7 in NV, 2.2 in NC, 10.7 in VA and -.5 in OH.  
    In Senate races, of the critical ones, Tillis, McSally, Collins are definitely in trouble, as well as Gardner.  Jones is down in AL and Ossof is down GA (but not a net change).  The Georgia miracle ain’t gonna happen unless some miracle occurs.  If it was today Dems would pick up 3 seats net, resulting in a tie (King and Sanders caucusing with Dems), so tie goes to the VP pick. 

  22. I think Tammy Duckworth is a good choice and it looks like Stacey is out of the running but she is still my first choice.  If Susan Rice is a choice so is anyone.

  23. After picking up an episode here and there I watched the bulk of this season’s Perry Mason on HBO. Great series. Was weird because until the 7 th episode he was an investigator for an aging lawyer, Paul Drake was a beat cop and Hamilton Burger was an assistant district attorney. Della was the old attorney’s secretary/paralegal, and engineered Perry’s “internship” with the now deceased older attorney and HB prepped him for the bar exam, which he passed just in time to try the murder case that, combined with a disbarment threat from the DA drove him to suicide. Interesting take on Perry. 

  24. Renee, GWB was likable, just a weak sister who followed really bad actors’ advice.  It’s that likable thing that counts with voters after they leave office. Compared to Lardius, well, there’s no comparison to Lardius to GW.

  25. Ted Cassidy, (Lurch), posing on Daytona Beach with his fellow lifeguards while attending Stetson Univ.  

  26. Sturg – Per your 11:42, I’ll move to NYC (if  it opens up to folks flying in from TX) and busk on the streets.  That should do me in, but I might be happy for awhile.  
    Rumor mill here is there is a “big announcement” coming tomorrow. Part of the sales force got the axe today, so admin may be next.  I might get my chance to be a New Yorker, letting what I love kill me.

  27. Pogo…  I think it’s also that none of the Bushes were racists.
    Sturg…    poobah and Lurch…    maybe there really is only 6 degrees of separation 🙂

  28. Bink, duly noted, but that just scratches the surface.  You’ll notice I didn’t even mention the case. It’s a dense drama with tons of twists and turns, none of which are mentioned except the most basic relationships among the primary parties.  There is still 1 or maybe 2 episodes left in this season, so the outcome of the case is yet to be determined.

  29. Adela Rogers St John has a couple books out there about her dad, who some say was the model for Erle’s Perry Mason.   They are really nice to read if you like lawyers and lawyer stuff, like Grisham.

  30. Thanks, I’ll check that out, Sturg – I’m digging getting back into Perry Mason.  Gonna have to read some of the old ESG stuff as well. 

  31. more info on bass at SFChronicle last month:

    Five-term Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass is theother Californian on Joe Biden’s short list to be his vice president. She’s rising up the veepstakes charts so fast that even conservative columnistGeorge Will— the Ronald Reagan-cheerleader-turned-never-Trumper — said she’d be a great pick.
    Like many of the other women on Biden’s short list, Bass, 66, is a ceiling-breaker. The daughter of a postal worker, in 2008 she became the first Black woman in history to lead the California Assembly or any similar legislative body in the country. But she’s also different. She’s a healer. And right now, she’s having a moment in the national spotlight while trying to bring together warring parties.
    She is leading the congressional effort to reform policing and working on the Biden-Sen. Bernie Sanders unity team, tasked with trying to get progressives to warm up to the former vice president. If Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harrisare the fighters on Biden’s short list, always ready to trade punches with President Trump, then Bass is more like her potential running mate in her ability to work — or at least reach — across the aisle.
    In 2010, she sharedthe John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award with two Republicans and a Democrat for helping steward California out of its $42 billion budget crisis. Said the former president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy: The four Legislature leaders “set aside party loyalties and ideological differences and fashioned a solution to rescue California from the brink of financial ruin.”
    Bass has has won praise from the top Republican in the House, Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy — whom she knew from their days in the Legislature — and from House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat whose endorsement delivered the nomination for Biden. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised her “gentility and strength” in tasking her, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to lead the effort to change how policing is done.
    But don’t confuse being a healer with being soft.
    “She fights with a smile,” said Manuel Pastor, a University of Southern California sociology professor who has known her for 25 years.
    “You could see Kamala Harris leaving Donald Trump or Mike Pence on the floor in a debate. That’s not Karen in a debate,” said Pastor, author of “State of Resistance.” “But are you going to walk away from that debate thinking that Mike Pence is a fool? Probably. She will do that in a very subtle way.”
    Key Bass fact: She earned brown belts in tae kwon do and hapkido. As she told the Los Angeles Times in 2009: Learning martial arts “taught me how to fight in a manner that is respectful; don’t personalize and get to the point. The goal of a martial artist is actually to not fight, (it’s) to prevent the fight.”
    Perhaps it is not surprising that Bass is a healer since, like Biden, she has had to heal herself after losing a child. In 2006, her only daughter, Emilia Bass-Lechuga, and son-in-law Michael Wright, who met as students at Loyola Marymount University, were killed in an automobile accident shortly after they were married. Emilia was 23. Bass has four stepchildren she raised with her ex-husband.


  32. I don’t oppose an older woman as VP or P or Supreme Court Justice. However, as Biden is demonstrably old (definition of old : anyone older than I am) it would be helpful to get a younger person to run as his Veep. 
    I love Duckworth. If the expectation of a black woman on the ticket weren’t explosive, I would want Biden to pick her. She is everything the ticket needs, except that she’s not black, so picking her would be a disaster. 
    I also love Abrams and Warren. I can go with Harris, Bass, Bottoms, Pressley, Rice, Lujan, Z. Maxwell, M. Wiley, Obama, Oprah or Everlyn Wentzlaff.

  33. Don’t think mere tsunami. This can be the extinction of the dinosaurs and their party, and the end of the tyranny of BIG OIL – if we want that badly enough. I do. 

    Before your very ears and eyes the dinosaurs are now becoming birds, parrots, turkeys, cuckoos, mandarins, chickens, ostriches, boobies, dabblers, vultures, and dirty bustards. The first three are the most commonly seen, but the last two rule the roost. 

  34. XR, I’d say that the 4th rules the roost – at least among the Goopers (if you count birds as the 1st).

  35. Mr Pogo, cuckoos are certainly the most numerous, especially in the Oval Office.

    It’s questionable whether he has any actual power anymore.

  36. norquist is still the most powerful man (bustard) in America. The invasive pest rupert (vulture) is probably the second most powerful, having just killed off and eaten his powerful offspring. 

  37. I wonder if Melanier will let her son go to school, now that Gov. Hogan has stepped in…cuz he wants kids to get sick, just like Gov. Abbott.

  38. As a fat old white guy, I understand your ire, Mr Man. There’s a huge herd of bad ones that give three or four of us a bad name. I use that ‘us’ kinda wishfully.

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