Austin R. Cooper Jr.Columnists

COOPER: The Presidential Medal of Racism, Sexism and Ignorance

According to the author Anonymous in “A Warning,” “In the history of American democracy, we have had undisciplined presidents. We have had incurious presidents. We have had inexperienced presidents. We have had amoral presidents. Rarely if ever before have we had them all at once. Donald Trump is not like his predecessors. Everyone knows that. The character of the president should be of the utmost concern for citizens.”

During his recent State of the Union address, the president awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to racist, sexist and ignorant radio host Rush Limbaugh. In doing so, President Trump once again demonstrated a unique ability to soil and degrade everything he touches. Established by President John F. Kennedy several months before his assassination, “The medal seeks to recognize people who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Previous recipients, by both Democratic and Republican presidents, include A. Philip Randolph, the Apollo 13 crew, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Aretha Franklin, William Safire, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Andy Griffin, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Two individuals, Ellsworth Bunker and Colin Powell, have received this honor twice. In 1993, Presidential Ronald Reagan was presented this award by President George H.W. Bush.

Now, aside from shamefully appealing to his political base, what kind of president would give this award to Rush Limbaugh? Why of course, the current racist president of the United States, who saw “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville. Both men are of the same ilk and share the same hatred for humanity, with the exception of other similarly insecure and threatened white males. Consider just a few of Limbaugh’s comments since entering radio national syndication in 1988:

• “Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”
• “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and uh, maternal instincts that government ought to reflect.”
• “Holocaust? Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos — what’s to complain about?”
• “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” (to an African-American female caller)
• “If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.”
• “Blaming guns for murder is like blaming folks for obesity.”
• “We’re not sexists, we’re chauvinists. We’re male chauvinist pigs and we’re happy because we think that’s what men were destined to be. We think that’s what women want.”

Yes, the author of those ignorant statements was presented the nation’s highest honor in the House gallery by first lady Melania Trump, as the president looked up from the podium with a smirk, no doubt proud of his latest public display of offensive stupidity to appeal to his political base.

America, we are nine months away from the next election. In my opinion, the president is well-positioned for reelection. We Democrats need to collectively get our act together, before it is too late. The recent debacle of the Iowa Caucus? We cannot blame the president, or Vladimir Putin, Rush Limbaugh, or even global warming. Democrats poured that bath tub of dirty water and hopped right in, led by DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Iowa Chairman Troy Price. Regarding the Iowa Caucus mess, President Trump called it “sad and embarrassing.” I agree.

President Trump is effective at appeasing to his base. Damn other Americans! So why are Iowa and New Hampshire, which are 90 percent white, still so initially dominant in the Democratic primary process? How is that, for example, in any way appealing to the most loyal of the Democratic base — African-American women? None of the remaining candidates for president are persons of color. It is just one self-inflicted wound after another by Democrats and upon other Democrats.

At the 68th National Prayer Breakfast, Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks, author of “Love Your Enemies,” spoke of love, forgiveness and redemption. In beginning his remarks, President Trump responded, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.” He then proceeded to attack his political opponents. Even in a religious setting and with no hesitation whatsoever, the president of the United States disputed and dismissed the teachings of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. Some evangelicals in the crowd laughed.

How did we get here? And, can the country survive another 11 months — or four years — of the unhinged, racist, ignorant, sexist and unorthodox presidency of Donald J. Trump, as underscored by his allegiance to the teachings of Rush Limbaugh?

Cooper is president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

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Austin R. Cooper Jr.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr., is an experienced government affairs and public relations professional. He has over 25 years of related experience and accomplishments working in senior-level positions on Capitol Hill, as a state lobbyist for the City of New York under former Mayor David Dinkins and with Edelman Worldwide and Hill & Knowlton. For several years, he also served as the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) in Atlanta, GA. Austin is currently the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, LLC, which provides government relations and communications counsel to government and non-government organizations in Washington, DC.

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