Graves: The death of outrage

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We have gotten used to it, haven't we. We are numb to it by now. The lies that justify the mindless cruelty towards the outcasts and the homeless; the people whose lives are in tatters.

The sonnet on the Statue of Liberty beckoned the tired and the poor to our shores. Now, a "No Vacancy" sign should dangle from the torch.

While the impeached president of the United States delivers a State of the Union speech that radiated sunbeams to wild applause and chants of "Four more years!" from the group that enables his appalling behavior and lawlessness, migrant children languish in cages.

There was the typical back-patting about how unemployment was low and the economy was robust, but no mention of the fact that the national deficit approached $1 trillion in 2019.

Mr. Trump's version of economics is similar to the mindset of a person who thinks he still has limitless money to spend as long as there are checks in his checkbook.

When Donald Trump was elected president, remember all the cheery platitudes from embarrassed Republicans that he was certain to "change" now that the most challenging office in the country had been handed to him by the Electoral College?

That implied that they were very much aware that a fundamental change was necessary for this crude and tactless man to govern effectively.

How much Trump is actually capable of change was recently demonstrated once again. Governor Andrew Cuomo was paying a visit to the White House. New York is a state that draws the president's particular animosity because New Yorkers aren't fooled for a moment by this consummate con man having had to deal with his corrupt business dealings for decades.

The meeting was scheduled to discuss the administration's new ban on policies that eased travel restrictions on people from New York who were participating in what was called Global Entry programs. Before the meeting on Feb. 13, Mr. Trump suggested via a tweet that Gov. Cuomo would stand a much better chance at attaining his goals if the state was less inclined to pursue its multitude of lawsuits against Trump.

New York had already won a $2 million judgment against him for his phony family charity that conned people out of money intended for, among other worthy causes, St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

The money instead went to sports memorabilia for Mr. Trump and a large oil portrait that he hung in one of his tacky gaudy resorts.

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The point, however, is not that Donald Trump is an awful man. The point is that our impeached president never learns from his past mistakes. He was, in effect, making the same kind of quid pro quo overtures to Cuomo that he made in his "perfect" phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The change everyone expected took place, but it had nothing to do with the thuggish mentality that Trump brought to the presidency. We were the ones who changed. In a way, it was similar to our attitude about the scourge of guns in this country.

If the death toll isn't too high, it's just another day in America. If it was, we make the same resolutions that we have made since the first child died in Newton in 2012 with no real intention of keeping them.

Time heals all wounds unless the school with the bullet holes in the walls is the one your child attended.

We changed, God help us. Outrages, insults, and a staggering degree of ineptness that would have doomed the administration of any other president were just shuffled off by a large portion of the American public as either a refreshing change or hardly worth mentioning.

We are still capable of shock on a more personal level. I'm sure it will be passed off as just another example of a bleeding heart liberal moaning about how tough things are by readers who are more stouthearted than I am, but it was immeasurably sad to pick up the Banner and read that a 57-year-old man, left homeless by a fire at his home, was found frozen to death under a bridge in Bennington.

It always goes through my mind when I read about a tragedy like this one that that man was once a little boy with the same hopes and dreams that we all have. I don't know what his life was like or to what degree his fate was of his is own making, but no one in America in 2020 deserves to die under a bridge.

I was, by chance, reading "The Edge of Sadness," Edwin O'Connor's novel about a parish priest when I learned of the homeless man's death. Father Hugh Kennedy ministered to the destitute, the unfortunate and the dispossessed in the Boston area.

He was with many of them when they died and he had this to say, "I am bending down over a bed to watch the tumbling, mumbling recitation of sins, to hear what may be the last words on earth of some poor soul who, for most of the years of his life, has been hungry, dirty, battered, harassed, pursued, and lacerated by every sort of pain and humiliation, he may now, upon suddenly realizing that all this may soon be over, shoot upright and with frightened, staring eyes say incredulously, 'I'm not going to die, Father? I'm not really going to die?'"

The poor soul under the bridge on Holden Street didn't even have someone to ask that question to as he left this life.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has spent an estimated 115 million taxpayer dollars playing golf and Amazon paid no taxes at all. So, if disgust makes me a bleeding heart, I gladly admit my guilt.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Journal.


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