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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Down to communication

by John Brummett | June 14, 2022 at 4:25 a.m.


As someone mildly left-of-center on most things, I never felt as confident as when a conservative Republican woman from Wyoming championed my position on national prime-time television.

For once, I wasn't wincing. I do that whenever Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer walk near a microphone.

In the television special last week by the House committee investigating insurrection, Lynn Cheney clearly knew what she was talking about. She exuded confident rightness. With competence and command I hadn't seen on the moral and reasoned side of an issue in years, she laid bare Donald Trump as the megalomaniacal fraud he is.

And she head-on shamed Republicans who enable him through weakness.

I was thinking we needed a third party called the No-BS Party. Cheney could be the presidential nominee. Her message would be the restoration of plain speaking, reflecting honor and integrity. It would be that philosophical differences could come later after we fix ourselves fundamentally.

But I can't readily think of a running mate. Asa Hutchinson sounded a bit like one on television Sunday morning, saying Trump was responsible for Jan. 6, 2021, both morally and politically--he wasn't sure about legally--and that Republicans need "soul-searching."

Politics is about effective communication. Excepting special circumstance, presidents of my lifetime have either been good communicators or the one-term heirs of those good communicators.

John F. Kennedy was a good communicator; Lyndon Johnson was his heir who won only one elected term; Richard Nixon was a good communicator, as Checkers could attest; Jimmy Carter was the post-Watergate exception who got to be president only because Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon; Ronald Reagan was a good communicator; George H.W. Bush was his heir who couldn't win a second term; Bill Clinton was a good communicator; Al Gore was his heir who couldn't win a second term in part because the Supreme Court decided somebody had to lose his first; George W. Bush was a good communicator in a pedestrian and mispronounced way; Barack Obama was a good communicator; Trump was a good communicator, and Joe Biden got to be president because he was Obama's heir and because Trump was revealed by his one term as a megalomaniacal fraud.

Now Biden won't get a second term. Kamala Harris won't get a first.

Trump might get a delayed second term, so dysfunctional is our politics, though Cheney made the lay-down case for jail.

Soberly, vigorously, with no-nonsense clarity, Cheney gave example after example to make clear that a defeated president possessed of a serious disorder schemed over a period of weeks to defy American democracy and all legitimate evidence and counsel to keep himself in office fraudulently simply for the feeding of his disorder.

I predict public opinion polling will show Cheney's competent communication to have moved American opinion slightly against Trump and in favor of his prosecution by the Justice Department. And slight opinion movement amounts to mighty accomplishment in an era when opinions are cemented by uninformed resentment in defiance or denial of fact.

Too many of today's Americans, told they have nothing to fear but truth itself, ridicule the messenger as a RINO bleep. They declare that they so despise what they think America has become that they care only that Trump is the best agent they've seen for the vital implosion of their country so that they can live again like Beaver, Ozzie, Harriett, Sheriff Taylor and the father who knows best.

Fox News viewers, meaning the majority of the population of Arkansas, didn't see the hearings but only the derisive commentary of talking heads explaining that someone called Lynn Cheney was full of it and mean to that nice Mr. Trump.

I'd be remiss if I didn't stipulate before closing that unreasonableness plagues leftward American politics as well. I got attacked from the strident left on Twitter--which is redundant, not to mention a badge of honor--for saying the political question was Cheney's knockout punches versus a perception that the hearing was an over-produced television special.

One outraged critics used "both-side" as a derogatory verb, saying it was despicable for me to "both-sides" sedition.

Alas, I'm of an old school in which politics was the art of persuasion of the other side and not just a drug producing a glorious high for your side.

On one dysfunctional side we have a Trump rally and all the demagogic outrage thereof. On the other we have people shaming objective political analysis for interrupting their buzz.

But then, for about 45 minutes one night last week, we had a right-wing woman making the case of a mildly left-of-center man who, for once, wasn't wincing.

He was gratified and buoyed, though not to the point he couldn't calm himself with a bit of admittedly pessimistic political realism.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.



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