The Times We Live In
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A Wizard of Oz trifecta

What if you held a comeback rally and nobody came? Or, to be more specific, what if you selected a venue that holds 19,200 people for that rally to “kick off” your campaign, and slightly less than 6,200 people — or just under one-third capacity — show up?

A political satirist I enjoy recently said, “You’re like a Wizard of Oz trifecta. If you only had a brain…and a heart…and courage.”

Guess who she was talking about. And yes, it is the same person who held that anemic comeback rally.

There are so many actions from the president and his enablers where one can turn for illustrations to fit that Wizard of Oz description. The botched coronavirus response now resulting in the deaths of more than 120,000 Americans; the unconstitutional reaching out to foreign governments for help in meddling with our elections; the economic recession; and the tone-deaf response to racial injustice and the murder of black men, women, and children at the hands of police officers around the country are just the most recent. To pile on, it has been a busy two weeks with tell-all books and Supreme Court decisions that were made — in part — because of the incompetence of the administration. I don’t have time to go into the president’s call for credit for making Juneteenth “famous.” Which was accomplished, you’ll remember, by the president scheduling the comeback rally to excite his overwhelmingly-white base of supporters at the site of a race massacre on the same date. And don’t get me started on Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts threatening to withhold coronavirus relief funding from any local governments in his state that mandate masks inside government buildings. That’s an American state punishing their own citizens for fighting a pandemic. Punishing them for protecting their own health.

The list is endless and mind-boggling and the news moves too fast to stay current. But let’s narrow it down and see what a few pundits and observers are saying about each piece of that trifecta, beginning with the brain.

Trump calls John Bolton and other former top aides ‘dopes.’ Why did he hire them?

“Bolton joins an unprecedented group of former top-level advisors who have turned on their former boss. The list includes John F. Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff; James N. Mattis, his former Defense secretary; Dan Coats, his former director of national intelligence; and Rex Tillerson, his former secretary of State. Like Bolton, they were quickly labeled losers, liars or worse by the man who once lavishly praised their qualifications and counted them among ‘the very best people.’ The record of retrospective insult raises an obvious question: If they were such incompetent dolts, why did Trump hire them in the first place?”

Noah Bierman, Eli Stokols, Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2020

Now, about that heart.*

2020 Time Capsule #17: ‘Empathy and Simple Kindness’

“This past Saturday, former President George W. Bush released a brief video whose subtweeted message was unmistakable. It recognized the suffering of those who had lost family members, or economic prospects, or hope itself; it emphasized the all of us rather than the us and them response to national crisis; and it appealed to the generous rather than the resentful in human nature. In short, it was the kind of message that leaders of any nation have been expected to transmit, as part of their duty, in time of national hardship. And it highlighted by contrast the signals of “empathy and simple kindness” that Donald Trump himself had never managed to convey or even feign.”

James Fallows, The Atlantic, May 4, 2020

And finally, do we have to go anywhere other than the Senate Republicans to find a lack of courage?

Trump’s Bolton problem is nothing compared with Senate Republicans’ woes

“Anyone outside the Trump cult will be unsurprised by Bolton’s allegations. We knew Trump was willing to sell out to any foreign country. He invited foreign interference from the White House driveway. The ones who really will suffer, deservedly so, from Bolton’s account are the Republican senators who refused to hear his testimony and then voted to acquit (for lack of evidence, some said). Bolton’s book confirms how much harder it would have been for them to let Trump off the hook had a longtime conservative known for copious note-taking been called to testify.”

Bolton’s testimony would have highlighted how deep in the tank Republicans were for Trump and how uninterested they were in defending the Constitution….They must have hoped — and likely still do — that by now no one will care, that the passage of time will have dimmed our memories of their political cowardice….I come back time and again to House impeachment manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif. ), who brilliantly summed up the stakes in his closing remarks to the Senate:

‘We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less, and decency matters not at all.'”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, June 18, 2020

The perfect Wizard of Oz trifecta says it all. If they only had a brain…and a heart…and courage.

Vote like your life depends on it. Because it does.

More to come…


* Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times wrote a long article about Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in the recent Supreme Court case protecting LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination. It is another example of an enabler’s lack of heart, and I recommend her perspective.

Image of Emerald City by Beri Garrett from Pixabay. Images of Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow by Clker-Free-Vector-Images and Mallory Muse from Pixabay

This entry was posted in: The Times We Live In


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. Kathy LaPlante says

    David, I’ve been vacationing in the north woods of WI this past week – no TV, no radio yet I knew the Trump rally was coming and dreaded hearing about it. But my happiness this morning g hearing about how few attended has made my heart so happy. My 95 year old mom is even happier. Thanks for your post today. Now to celebrate with my dad today. We will make sure they get their absentee ballots! Best to you and Happy Father’s Day! Kathy

    Sent from my iPhone

    • DJB says

      Thanks, Kathy. Great to hear from you, and glad to know you are getting some time away from this madness. Enjoy your day with your dad. I’m sure he’s proud of his daughter. All the best. DJB

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