Pol­i­tics: Col­lat­eral dam­age

While ev­ery­one’s been fo­cused on the Hil­lary–don­ald slugfest, the real drama is what hap­pens if trump dooms repub­li­can can­di­dates and gives Democrats con­trol of the se­nate—where real power re­sides.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - MAN AT HIS BEST - Words by Charles P Pierce

In 1987, in a hear­ing room on Capi­tol Hill, a Ja­panese-amer­i­can sen­a­tor from Hawaii named Daniel Inouye looked down on a wit­ness named Oliver North. North had helped en­able a scheme by which the United States sold mis­siles to a ter­ror­ist na­tion and used the profits to fi­nance its own al­lied ter­ror­ists in Cen­tral Amer­ica. Dur­ing his tes­ti­mony be­fore the Se­nate com­mit­tee that was in­ves­ti­gat­ing what had be­come known as the Iran-con­tra scan­dal, he wore the uni­form and the medals of a lieu­tenant colonel in the Marines, which he was, the uni­form that he didn’t wear while he was ped­dling mil­i­tary hard­ware to the Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion­ary govern­ment of Iran from the base­ment of the White House. Inouye was wear­ing a suit. As North’s lawyer kept in­ter­rupt­ing him, Inouye, the chair­man of the com­mit­tee and a fu­ture Medal of Honor win­ner for his ser­vice in World War II on be­half of a na­tion that had im­pris­oned fam­i­lies like his for the of­fense of be­ing Ja­panese, spoke qui­etly and with great sad­ness.

“In 1964, when Colonel North was a cadet, he took an oath of of­fice,” Inouye said. “And he also said that he will abide with the reg­u­la­tions which set forth the cadet hon­our con­cept. The first hon­our con­cept, first be­cause it’s so im­por­tant, over and above all oth­ers, is a very sim­ple one: a mem­ber of the bri­gade does not lie, cheat, or steal.” Inouye went on, “Our govern­ment is not a govern­ment of men; it is still a govern­ment of laws.”

It was not so much what Inouye said but how he said it. And per­haps un­con­sciously, per­haps not, he kept plucking at the right sleeve of his suit coat, a sleeve that was empty be­cause Inouye had left his right arm in an Army field hospi­tal in Tus­cany in April 1945, af­ter a Ger­man sol­dier de­stroyed it with a rifle grenade. His voice was sooth­ing but his fin­gers kept mak­ing the point, over and over again. I have stand­ing, his fin­gers said. You have to lis­ten to me when I say this. I earned the right to say these things.

I thought of this mo­ment again in Au­gust, in the high sum­mer of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that oc­ca­sion­ally has looked like a grotesque of democ­racy. At a rally in Vir­ginia, a veteran had handed Don­ald J Trump, by the grace of God and per­verse cir­cum­stance the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent, the Pur­ple Heart medal. Trump took the medal and then he re­counted the hand­off:

“I said, ‘Man, that’s like, that’s like big stuff. I al­ways wanted to get the Pur­ple Heart. This was much eas­ier.’ ”

This drew a storm of out­rage, but no­body replied to what Trump said in a cleaner way than did Thai-amer­i­can con­gress­woman Tammy Duck­worth, who is run­ning to un­seat Repub­li­can Mark Kirk as the ju­nior sen­a­tor from Illi­nois. She re­leased a pho­to­graph on the In­ter­net. In the pic­ture, Duck­worth is ly­ing in a hospi­tal bed dressed in a hospi­tal gown bear­ing the em­blem of the Army’s

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