“You salute the rank, not the man.” — U.S. Army Major Richard Winters of Easy Company to Captain Herbert Sobel during the German surrender to Allied forces.
I’ve become fascinated by the words above written by Stephen E. Ambrose in his book Band of Brothers that was made into a television miniseries. They illustrate the respect demanded in the U.S. military. I had a chance to meet the renowned historian when he and I were both speakers at the New Orleans Investment Conference in the late 1990s. He was of an older generation and had a quiet confidence about him. We spoke only briefly because many veterans from the war were politely waiting their turn.
America today has little in common with the America that existed when members of Easy Company fought and died in World War II. Until the 1990s, there was an overriding respect for the presidency with the exception of the Watergate crisis in the early ‘70s. Today, without cause, there is lack of decency for the presidency. Nowhere is it more painfully pernicious than in late night comedy television.
Decency is dead
I grew up watching Johnny Carson, the man who built the blueprint for late night television. He was standard fare during my college years. A few years ago I watched a fascinating two-hour biography, “Johnny Carson King of Late Night” on PBS American Masters.
His close friend and onscreen sidekick Ed McMahon explained part of Carson’s mystique was that he never shared his political views. Carson explained his position by saying why should I automatically lose one half of my audience because of my political views which are worth nothing.
Compare Carson to today’s list of late night hosts who are rude, crude and deliberately disrespectful of President Donald Trump. Television hosts regularly ridicule the president, which inspires a loathing not just of President Trump, but of the presidency itself. This delights liberals who chortle at the Trump jokes and yet consider themselves as caring and kind Americans.
Last week late night television hit an all-time low.
For months, CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert has focused his monologue on President Trump. Colbert has joked about Trump’s intellect, appearance and family.
This is from Colbert’s monologue last Wednesday:
Mr. Trump, I love your presidency. I call it Disgrace the Nation.
Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine.
You have more people marching against you than cancer.
You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster.
Liberals were outraged, but not because Colbert wasn’t funny or that it was a mean-spirited and obscene attack on the president of the United States. They were upset because they said Colbert used a homophobic reference. To liberals, the holster line was incredibly painful to homosexuals.
Tough times, but better than today
In the mid-60s an overwhelmingly majority of Americans respected the office of the president. It was only after four students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State were shot dead by the National Guard in 1970, followed by the publication of the Pentagon Papers — that proved that President Lyndon Johnson had been compulsively lying about the war — that Americans begin to turn against the presidency, then held by President Richard Nixon, who made matters far worse with his criminal coverup of the Watergate break in. A decade later, President Ronald Reagan had restored respect for the presidency.
Thirty years later millions of Americans have an inexplicable rage against Trump. His haters, who number in the millions, say he is a racist, Islamophobe, misogynist and a fascist.
Claims that Trump is a racist can only be based on his convictions that America must protect the border with Mexico and enforce immigration laws.
If being an Islamophobe means being concerned enough to enact a temporary ban on peoples who openly espouse the murder of American, then that is a good thing for the president to be.
If Trump is a misogynist, it doesn’t show in his record in the private sector where many women filled top positions in his businesses.
In a 2008 interview with CBS News about women in the workplace, Trump praised the women he has hired over the years.
“Women are doing very, very well in my company and in virtually all companies. They’re tough, they’re smart, they’re competitive — they really are a force,” he said. “And they talk about the glass ceiling — I believe they’ve broken that glass ceiling many, many times over.”
As for being a fascist, Trump, at age 70, has displayed no evidence of this. There is nothing in his writing or in what he has said, which has been exhaustively covered over the past 30 years.
“There’s an oft-overlooked plank of 1930s fascism that’s missing from Trump’s worldview: an anti-capitalist populism that, no matter Trump’s campaign rhetoric, is not at all reflected in the White House’s proposed policies.”
Until he threw his hat into the ring for the presidency, Trump was considered what he was and still is, a New York, big government liberal. He is no further to the radical right than President George H.W. Bush was, but the two men’s personas and styles are miles apart. The populist rhetoric Trump used to win the presidency has no doubt attracted many on the radical right. But Trump’s four months in office do not back up liberal claims of an impending dictatorship.
Trump has been ridiculed, vilified and taunted by the Left, which wants to see him impeached. Democrats look every day under every rock to find something remotely criminal in Trump’s campaign. The longer they go without finding anything the angrier they become.
Respect for America has become a part of our past. If Americans cannot respect institutions like the presidency, they certainly cannot respect each other. To a very large degree, Americans no longer even respect themselves. There is an ugliness growing in America. The lack of decency and the widespread absence of respect are hastening America’s decline.
Yours in good times and bad,
— John Myers