Profiles in Courage
In 1957, the book, Profiles in Courage—believed by many to have been ghost written by Ted Sorensen for then Senator John F. Kennedy—won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The book was a series of short biographies of eight United States Senators who challenged the policies of their party to act with bravery and integrity for what they believed was right, despite enduring harsh criticism and loss of political standing.
It is sad that the present complement of Republican Senators did not read that book before voting on their Party’s version of a tax bill they claimed would benefit the country. Had someone in their ranks read it, perhaps we would be adding a new name to those deserving a place among the ranks of those who have demonstrated courage in the exercise of their Senatorial responsibilities. But that is not the case. We have no new profiles in courage; only profiles in cowardice, greed and deceit. Let’s look at a few of the candidates whose actions disappointed us.
Profile in Cowardice
First, there is Susan Collins of Maine, who bravely stood against her Party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and leave millions without insurance. It was not unreasonable to expect her to maintain that posture with the inclusion of a provision in the tax bill to remove the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which will have the same effect of forcing millions back onto the roles of the uninsured. Though she protested at first, she came back on board, accepting a totally unbelievable promise that the loss of revenue from the individual mandate would be made up by additional funding sometime in the future. Really—with a Republican controlled Congress that makes no secret of the need to cut spending to ameliorate the huge deficit their tax bill created? Faced with the possibility of being the only Republican to vote no, her backbone apparently withered. With such demonstrated resolve, she is the well-deserved recipient of the 2017 Profile in Cowardice Award.
Profiles in Greed
There are a number of Republicans in line for the Profile in Greed Award. Of course, everyone’s first choice is undoubtedly the greediest devotee in chief, otherwise known as the President of the United States. But despite his influence including provisions in the tax bill that personally benefit him and his friends, and despite his enriching himself from what otherwise would be a dignified presidential position, he is not eligible for this distinctly Senatorial Award. And while a diligent review of those Senators who will personally benefit financially from provisions in the bill would reveal several eligible candidates, only one should walk away with the prize.
So, we focus on one Senator who early in the debate stated unequivocally that as a true conservative he could not vote for this bill, which would increase the deficit by well over a trillion dollars. Here was someone standing in opposition to his own Party because of his principled belief of what was right. Here was a real candidate with the potential to claim the crown of courage. But suddenly his “no” vote dissolved and he voted in the affirmative, assuring the bill’s passage. What happened? Had there been a change in the bill’s provisions that would eliminate the anticipated deficit and allow him to vote with his principles intact.
We know that the anticipated deficit remains the same, but something did change. It was a provision that was put in at the proverbial eleventh hour, which provides significant personal financial benefit to the Senator. Was that what caused him to change his vote? We’ll never know for sure, but since there is no other explanation for this man of principle, circumstantial evidence indicates that Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has earned the 2017 Profile in Greed Award.
Profiles in Deceit
Regrettably there are too many candidates for the Profile in Deceit Award. Consider the number of Senators who classify this tax bill as one designed principally to provide tax relief to the middle class, when it is clearly and admittedly aimed at corporations and the wealthiest 1% citizenry. Or consider the number of Senators who claim the bill will pay for itself, that it will stimulate the economy sufficiently to cover the deficit when they know that has never happened before and is not expected to do so now. And finally, consider the number of Senators who have revealed that the large deficit they have just created will require significant future reductions in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. With deceit so prevalent, it is only fitting that the 2017 Profile in Deceit Award go to all Republican Senators as a group. It has been justifiably earned.
Cowardice, greed and deceit; these have become the hallmark of today’s Republican Party. What a disappointment!