“With malice toward none; with charity for all.”
— President Abraham Lincoln (2nd inaugural address)
That phrase, of unity and empathy, will live in our history and must, as it is a foundation of democratic life – that we can argue over differences with vehemence and passion, but remember as well that we are in all our diversity of place, ethnicity, belief and circumstance, one nation of Americans.
Roger Cohen, a long time NYT correspondent I’ve always admired, now living Paris, writes with the perspective of distance, here summing the difference between Lincoln’s vision and that of our current President:
“Trump has ruled in an altogether different spirit, dividing where he might heal, inciting where he might reassure, goading where he might soothe. He has been intent on pitting one American against another, lacing his language with violence. He has, without compunction or pause, demeaned the highest office in the land.”
— Cohen Op-Ed
It’s regrettable that President Trump is in a hospital tonight fighting a virus he refused to take seriously and often dismissed even as tens of thousands of Americans died. I wish him recovery and good health, but cannot forgive the ugly way he has divided us, nor his failure to vigorously counter that virus, still sweeping across our country. His hospitalization – after rallies minus masks and effective distancing, after a continuing and almost dismissive take on the deadly virus, is itself a symbol of that failure.
He is not one with a Lincoln, as he often suggests, but more a reminder of that prophetic line from Shakespeare:
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves…….”