Tag Archives: civility

The election – Virginia chose civility and reason

election-signs-2017-va - 1Hardly a person fails to follow the polls to consider the trend of opinion approaching the day of election.

In Virginia that appeared to favor Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Edward Gillespie closing in on his Democratic opponent.

There was a pol that had Mr. Gillespie’s opponent, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam, with a 13-point lead in September, then a 6-point lead weeks ago, and a 2-point lead the weekend before the election.

There was much concerned talk among Dems and joyfully anxious conversation among Republicans.

As they went from polling place to polling place on the day of the election, many wondered if Northam might be the only member of the Democratic slate left standing by election night.

This seeming trend toward a narrow victory for Northam augured badly for down ticket Dems who rely on the tail of the statewide ticket to pull them over the electoral finish line.

Polls and pundits, however, were astonished at the results several hours after 7PM when the precincts across the state closed and began reporting their results. Continue reading

Civil public dialogue

Senator Orrin Hatch and your correspondent

Senator Orrin Hatch and your correspondent

I studied law because I wanted to be involved in politics.  Thomas Jefferson told a cousin who sought his advice that, if he wanted to go into politics, he should study the law.  I figured Jefferson knew what he was talking about.

My party preference was set when I heard Senator Jack Kennedy, running for President, speak at Fordham University when I was a High School freshman at the Prep.

Senator Ted Kennedy and, well, yours truly

Senator Ted Kennedy and, well, yours truly

I didn’t give a thought to whether preferring one political party or another could bar one from public service.

After Columbia Law School, I was appointed a law clerk in the 2nd Circuit by an Eisenhower appointee, a NY federal prosecutor by a Nixon appointee, special counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by Senator Strom Thurmond, and special counsel to the U.S. Senate Labor Committee by Orrin Hatch; all of these appointments were by Republicans.

In those days, you could find a worthy challenge in public service without regard to party affiliation.

In 1980, I was a Director of Citizens for Kennedy in New York, when Ted challenged Jimmy Carter to be the party’s nominee for President.  But it was not to be.

When I was appointed by Senator Hatch as his Special Counsel after Ted’s campaign, I arrived early to an empty Senate Labor Committee Hearing Room, except for Senator Kennedy who was the ranking member on the Committee.

Ted asked, “What brings you here?”

“I’m Special Counsel to the Senate Labor Committee,” I answered.

Ted laughed, “No, you’re not. I didn’t appoint you.”

“No,” I said, “You didn’t but Orrin did.”

Ted came closer, speaking softly, in a mock conspiratorial way, and asked, “Does he know about us?”

I said, “Yes, he does.” Continue reading

Civilizing the savage man

leoRevenant“Revenant” is a gritty and terrifying western about Hugh Glass, a 19th Century frontiersman, left for dead after a mind-chilling, grizzly bear attack.

Glass crawls and limps, near death, bleeding from open sores, suffering unremitting pain, across hundreds of miles, to find and to kill the man who abandoned him who was charged with keeping him alive; Leonardo DiCaprio gives an Academy Award-winning performance as Glass in Alejandro Inarritu’s amazing movie.

It’s a primal story of survival, devotion, relentless cliff-hanging danger, disaster, betrayal, torment, violence, revenge, and human savagery.

This is a vivid rear view reflection on a society with little use for law or custom.

This is a world, both primitive and elemental, played out before sweeping scenic panoramas so wild and untamed that life is continuously at risk, both from the natural surroundings but also from the savage man.

Aristotle wrote that, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separate from law and justice he is the worst.

In the movie, Revenant, man is at his worst.

Revenant is an excursion into savagery and teaches the value of law and civility. Continue reading

Winter and Cherry Trees

George-Washington-HoudounWhen has a man been so well regarded in our nation’s history that we made him President without a popular vote by the people?

George Washington was that man.

He was chosen by 69 electors to be our first President.

The attributes that commended him for such an historic appointment should be the measure of our elected representatives today.

Parson Mason Weems told a story, demonstrating Washington’s honesty – that George had confessed the truth to his father that he had chopped down a cherry tree.   This act of contrition was a fable.  Not true at all.  In truth, in 1743, when George was 11, his father, Augustine, died.  George did, however, concern himself with building character.  Before his 16th birthday, George compiled 110 “rules of civility and decent behavior in company and conversation.”

The first rule was that “every action done in Company, ought to be with some sign of respect, to those that are present.” Continue reading