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.
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