I was damn near overwhelmed today as I listened to the tributes that poured forth for the memory of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
I want to mention specifically the remarks offered by two former presidents of the United States: Barack H. Obama and Bill Clinton.
The thought was inescapable. How wonderful it was to hear two men who used to occupy the White House who could speak in cogent sentences, who could remain focused intently on an individual they were asked to honor with their words, who could avoid traipsing off into nonsensical riffs about this or that.
Presidents Obama and Clinton embody so much of what we do not have in the current president. They spoke from their heart. They talked of Cummings’ strength, which he exhibited routinely through his compassion, empathy and caring for others.
I could not help but ask myself: Could I ever imagine that kind of rhetoric coming from the mouth of Donald J. Trump? The answer is plainly obvious: Hell no!
Obama and Clinton clearly were not perfect presidents. They made mistakes. Clinton, of course, made what congressional Republicans considered to be an impeachable mistake.
These men, though, always preserved an air of dignity about themselves and their exalted office. They elevated themselves to the occasion brought to them by their position. They understood that their rhetoric mattered.
Today, they reminded us how it used to be when the president stood before the nation to speak of a political icon. They reminded us how it always should be.
What’s more, they have reminded us of what is missing in the man who has succeeded them.