Tale of two Presidents

Awakening from an extremely vivid dream, I picked up my phone to view headlines, as is my usual habit. When I saw the first one, I thought I was still dreaming. The headline came from Politico Magazine, and it read: “Boxing, ‘Moonies’ and Firefighter Selfies: Trump’s Strange 9/11 of One.” As I began to read the piece, I found myself shaking my head much like a cartoon character trying to shake out the cobwebs. Surely, this could not be real. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

While most of our former presidents were paying their respects to those lost on September 11, Trump was doing what he does best: Promoting himself and grifting for money. He appeared via videotape at a conference of the Unification Church, which Politico called the “Moonies cult.” Later that evening, he returned to Florida to appear at a casino, which was simulcast to pay-per-viewers at $49.99 per head. His doofus son Donald Jr. was with him, thinking it a good idea to add “a bit of levity on a somber day.” These two are peas in a pod—self-centered and obnoxious peas. You might say that in all fairness, Trump did visit a fire and a police station, but he marred the occasion by lambasting President Biden and repeating his favorite fantasy about the “rigged” 2020 election. Trump was and always will be a joke. The thought that he could possibly run again in 2024 and win is frightening, and it is also frightening how many of his fellow Republicans have gone down the same rabbit hole. Fortunately, there is one who has not, and he gave a moving, heartfelt tribute to the fallen heroes that Trump and his son saw as a joke.

CNN reported on President George Bush’s speech from Shanksville, PA, where a plane of ordinary people took their hijackers by surprise, saving the lives of others in the process. I watched the speech and was truly touched by President Bush’s words. He talked about how our lives were changed forever by those events, and they truly were. In the face of tragedy, Americans pulled together. We, for a time, felt like one nation, focused on the same goals. It appeared that we could once and for all live in peace with our brothers, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, and everything else that makes us beautifully different.

Bush also talked about how politics have “become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment that leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.” His words were timely and on point, and they were punctuated by two speakers who followed him—our first, Native American cabinet member Deb Haaland and our first female, Black/Asian descent vice president, Kamala Harris. The presence of Haaland and Harris, following Bush’s speech, should awaken us to who we must now strive to be. We must take his words to heart and return to the people we were on September 11, 2001. That is the only way to move our country into a positive direction for the future.

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