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While the U.S. waits for Iran to blink

Stubbornness is not an admirable trait. It suggests either a sense of superiority or arrogance in the person who demonstrates it. Right now, the new Biden administration is demonstrating stubbornness when it comes to Iran.

The Iranian government has dropped several hints — the latest being a CNN interview with the country’s foreign minister — that it is ready for dialogue with the U.S. The Biden administration’s response: Chill out. There have been no overtures from the administration since it entered power almost two weeks ago.

Such an attitude is not becoming of leadership. 

During his inauguration address, President Biden spoke of healing. Healing cannot be reserved only for Americans, who after four years of white-hot political rhetoric (not to mention a failed coup) made clear Biden meant a new beginning, an opportunity to think about the direction the country was heading in the initial years of the 2020s. 

Tehran is offering the proverbial olive branch. The time is now, not tomorrow and not next week, for Washington to accept it. Doing so would be consistent with Biden’s call for healing.

We agree calling for someone’s assassination is wrong, right?

We’ve all done it — that moment we say something we wish we hadn’t. (“You’re an a******” might be one example.) Often, in such circumstances, an apology is enough for all sides to move on.

At other times, apologies aren’t enough. Calling for someone’s assassination is most definitely an example.

A Texas man is facing federal charges after suggesting on Twitter that one member of Congress ought to be assassinated.

Americans cannot dismiss such suggestions as “I’m sure he (or she) was just joking.” Rather, we must affirm such talk has no place in our country, no matter how divided we are, and we also must support stiff penalties should any charge lead to a conviction.

Nothing more needs to be said.

A comment to a student that perhaps ought to be shared with a larger audience

Photo: Anthony Moretti 19Jan2017

One of my RMU “kids” is in Washington, D.C. and taking part in The Washington Center‘s semester-length internship program. This morning she posted a picture from outside the Capitol (her internship is in a Pennsylvania representative’s office.)

I shared with her the picture you see above and told her it was my favorite of what remains my favorite place in the nation’s capital. I reminded her to never lose that feeling of wonder she stated she feels as she walks into the Capitol each day.

And then I got on my soapbox. I reminded her to

Never lose that feeling … — yes, our country’s political discourse absolutely stinks right now, and people from all across the political spectrum are comfortable tearing down the other side instead of engaging in serious conversation. We need young adults such as you to stand up and remind the entire country that we must talk, not yell, and share, not hoard. (I’ll step off my soap box now.)

Republicans and Democratic politicians are guilty of that ugly rhetoric, and too often each side argues such language is necessary because “the other side says things that are worse.” That’s not a sufficient answer, especially when the example set by these leaders is quickly emulated by the public.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama took criticism in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election when she told adoring crowds that “when they go low, we go high.” That philosophy of encouraging people to not languish in the muck of nastiness seemed naive in a period when white-hot language about women, the disabled, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and more tore at the fabric of the country’s basic human decency. And yet, Mrs. Obama was right: Continuing the rhetorical rampage (and I’ve been guilty of it however much I’d like to deny it) serves no one.

America has at least two more years of a presidency that is committed to fighting, not uniting, and demeaning instead of encouraging. Tough talk is not the same as nasty rhetoric. Americans need to step out of the comfort of their respective echo chambers and demand better of the our elected officials when it comes to setting the rhetorical tone of the nation.

Trump off the rails again, and Americans should remain vigilant in asking why

wp-image-404499265jpeg.jpeg

Donald Trump went rogue, or maybe beyond rogue, again when he took to Twitter to claim that his predecessor had his phones tapped during the 2016 presidential election. (You can find his tweets at the bottom of this blog post.)

It didn’t take long for the media to assess Trump’s accusations and determine they were baloney.

CNN called them “baseless.” From overseas, the Independent warned that the tweets were “transparently distraction tactics” to deflect attention from the renewed questions of the multiple contacts members of this election team and Cabinet had with the Russians last year. (For what it’s worth, top Russian officials and Trump have used almost identical language to describe the pressure to respond to the ongoing probe.)

As Reuters notes, President Obama strongly denied tapping Trump’s phones. And also remember that Trump offered no evidence to support his outrageous allegations.

Another week commences with Americans needing to ask if their president has the emotional and mental toolkit to function. These questions might be more important than any that might be asked about Russian contacts or interference during last year’s election.

Trump’s tirade came just days after he gave an address to Congress that was well-received by this blogger, as I noted that

…he abandoned the harshest of rhetorical devices, opting instead to demonstrate a respect for the office he holds and for the chamber in which he spoke.

His supporters must have been pleasantly surprised; his critics had to wonder what had happened to the blustery, boastful and braggadocios man who has torn into foe after foe for more than one year.

Other people offered equally positive or critical reviews of what the president said, but there was a sense that maybe, just maybe, Trump had turned a corner. Perhaps he would start acting like a statesman.

His Twitter tirade snuffed out that hope. And again raised the issue of whether Trump is capable of remaining in the office.

Those aforementioned Trump tweets:

His first tweet seemed angry:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/837993273679560704

In his second, he went a step further:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/837994257566863360

His final tweet made his anger all the more palpable:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/837996746236182529

Stop the “Not My President” nonsense

Photo: Anthony Moretti, 12July2016

Photo: Anthony Moretti, 12July2016

Too many people said the three corrosive words during the eight years that George W. Bush was president.

Another group that included too many people have said the same corrosive three words while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

The cries are starting to echo again as we move closer to Donald Trump assuming the presidency.

“Not My President.”

Baloney.

The man in the White House is the President of the United States. You are free to like or dislike him. You are free to like or dislike his politics. You are free to like or dislike his personal conduct.

But he is your president. He’s mine, too, even when I disagree with where he stands on most political issues.

Full stop.

I’m not telling you to stop speaking out on the issues. I’m not telling you to stop speaking out about your dislike of the man in the office. I’m not telling you to stop holding the president accountable.

I’m asking that you eliminate three words from your political rhetoric: Not My President.

Barack Obama has been our — yours and mine — president for eight years. In a few days, he will hand over power to Donald Trump. At that point, Trump will become our — yours and mine — president.

If you didn’t want Obama to be your president, you had only one option: Surrender your American citizenship and move somewhere else. (Betcha you didn’t do that.)

Same song, next verse beginning this Friday: If you don’t want Trump to be your president, give up your citizenship and move somewhere else. (Betcha you won’t do that.)

Let’s move on.