Tag Archives: Profile in Courage

This man offers hope for our future

This video is about 30 minutes long. It was recorded in the summer of 2017.

I have nothing to add to this. I just want to encourage you to watch it and to listen to the message delivered by a newly former president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, as he accepted the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

It speaks volumes about the ideals we need to attain once again for this great country.

Arpaio pardon no ‘profile in courage’

Donald John Trump Sr.’s pardon of former “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio is likely to haunt the president well beyond the foreseeable future.

Trump this week pardoned the bad-ass former Maricopa County (Ariz.) sheriff who had been convicted of contempt of court; Arpaio refused to obey a federal court order to cease rounding up people he suspected of being illegal immigrants.

Arpaio disobeyed a lawful federal order, from a duly sworn federal judge. For that, the president pardoned him. His pardon speaks to Trump’s penchant for appealing to the nation’s divisiveness.

I doubt seriously that this president is going to be honored — ever! — for this callous decision.

With that … I want to look back briefly at another presidential pardon that at the time drew enormous political push back. In the four-plus decades since, though, it has been seen as a courageous act by a president seeking to bind the wounds of a nation.

President Richard Nixon resigned his office on Aug. 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, took the oath and declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”

President Ford wasn’t quite right. A month later, the new president issued the pardon that most assuredly cost him election as president in 1976.

Many years passed and President Ford’s stature grew slowly over time. Americans who were critical of the decision to pardon President Nixon began to think differently about it. I was among those who went through a change of heart.

In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library did something quite extraordinary. It gave President Ford its annual Profile in Courage Award, honoring the president for the courage he showed in issuing the pardon, knowing the consequences it would have, but looking out only for the national good.

As the New York Times reported at the time: “Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts told the audience at the John F. Kennedy Library: ‘I was one of those who spoke out against his action then. But time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we see that President Ford was right. His courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the process of healing and put the tragedy of Watergate behind us.”’

And this, also from the Times: “Mr. Ford said: ‘President Kennedy understood that courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No adviser can spin it. No historian can backdate it. For, in the age-old contest between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity’s approval.”’

Time has allowed us to re-examine why President Ford acted as he did. Time also might provide us the same opportunity to take a fresh look at what Donald Trump has just done.

Then again, I doubt it. Seriously.

GHW Bush earns ‘Courage’ award

When a young man who would become president of the United States wrote “Profiles in Courage,” he sought to honor those who made difficult decisions against tall odds.

It took courage to fight the so-called conventional wisdom and to face down critics who would scorn them. John F. Kennedy’s book won him a Pulitzer Prize and it created a benchmark for others to emulate.

President Kennedy died in 1963 and in 1990 the library built to honor his memory and his family launched the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In May, the president’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, will honor one of JFK’s successors to the presidency, George H.W. Bush, for showing true courage in the face of withering criticism that — some have said — cost him re-election in 1992.


President Bush made his famous pledge at the 1988 Republican National Convention: “Read my lips, no … new … taxes.” The Louisiana Superdome crowd roared its approval and the then-vice president went on to win a huge victory that year in the race for the presidency.

Then in 1990, the president signed into law a federal budget that included — that’s right — tax increases along with spending cuts that sought to curb the federal budget deficit.

He was vilified by those on the right. Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to this day calls it a “betrayal of the American people.”

He is mistaken. The president sought to take back a promise he made in the heat of a highly charged political environment. He acted reasonably and faced down his critics.

For that the Kennedy Library is going to honor the 41st president of the United States.

President Bush has demonstrated that he truly cut a profile in courage.