Help! Help! Can anyone help? The First Amendment, the bedrock for our freedoms, is under assault by no less than the President of the United States, and we desperately need some help.
Let me think of some names. Oh, here’s one.
Chuck Barris, where are you, now that we really need you? Yes, right now, as the President of the United States continues to attack those that serve as our constitutionally-protected watchdogs, the country is in urgent need of protection from a vicious bully in his incessant attacks on journalists.
Oh how I wish that my fellow Philadelphian, Gong Show Host Chuck Barris, could pick up his big mallet and generate that unique metallic sound, a signature tone which says you’re gone because you’ve been … gonged.
Sadly, we know that Barris has gone to that big television studio in the sky and really can’t help us. But perhaps Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, or Benghazi Trey Gowdy might be able to help.
On second thought, nah. They’re all worthless.
Let’s try another name. Maybe we could call on South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson for help. Yes, that Joe Wilson, and we know just where he can be found.
Joe, the next time you see the Divider-in-Chief in Washington, we really need you to shout out “You lie!” to him, just like you famously did to Barack Obama. If Wilson would utter these same words he used against Obama, people would realize that if the congressman started calling out Trump for serial prevarication, his days would certainly be numbered.
On third thought, nah. Wilson lives in his own selective world of see no evil, and no Republican could ever provoke him to again shout out about presumed presidential lying.
Alas, it’s well past time to gong Donald Trump, though he is most deserving. So if Wilson and his fellow Republicans in the congressional leadership can’t help us, what remedy do we have left?
Yes, what remedy? Only a month after Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Manaforte bodyslammed a Guardian reporter, and only three days after White House Assistant Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence,” Trump tweeted a video that portrayed him punching and slamming a CNN reporter to the ground.
When does the body politic become immune to outrage, and has the Republican Party declared an open season on those who report on the nation and world for us?
Condemnation of Trump’s post that seemed to encourage violence against reporters and the media was widespread, except from Republican congressional leaders.
“What about GOP leaders? What about Republican leaders?” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter asked Sunday about responses to the tweet. “Where’s [House Speaker] Paul Ryan? Where’s [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell? Are GOP leaders going to speak up about these attacks against the media?”
Apparently not. “To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men,” the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote more than a century ago, and her words resonate today amid the silence of the cowards who call themselves leaders of the Party of Lincoln.
California congressman Eric Swalwell, a young rising star among Democrats, tried to get his Republican colleagues to take a stand against the continuing assault by Trump on the media and its representatives, his many critics, and those he dislikes for whatever reason: “I am calling on EVERY @HouseGOP Member of Congress to condemn this. You were elected to be a check on power. Check it, or you condone it,” he tweeted.
As the Republican silence on the fitness of Trump to serve in office is deafening, there is now some movement in Congress by Democrats to address the issue of the president’s erratic behavior in continually attacking the media and anything else he does not like. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland freshman, who is also an expert on constitutional law, has introduced legislation in the House that will examine the president’s fitness to serve.
“Given Donald Trump’s continued erratic and baffling behavior, is it any wonder why we need to pursue this legislation?” asked Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, a co-signer. “The mental and physical health of the leader of the United States and the free world is a matter of great public concern.”
As it should be. The NBC report goes on to address the heart of the matter – the concern about the state of the president’s overall health:
If successful, the law would create an 11-member bipartisan commission known as the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity, which would medically examine the president and evaluate his mental and physical faculties.
As members return next week, it should be interesting to see how many additional representatives might sign on to Raskin’s initiative, given their face time with constituents over the Fourth of July holiday. Those constituents are concerned not only about Trump’s tweets and his attacks on the media, but about his do-nothing approach to Russia, a hostile power that attacked our democracy, and also the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which many construe as an obstruction of justice.
There are many reasons to justify the removal of Donald Trump from office. Among a litany of potential high crimes and misdemeanors Trump may have committed during his short presidency, there are many who favor the initiation of impeachment proceedings. Similarly, there are others who might support Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment approach in forming a commission to study the health and well-being of the president.
In the meantime, there is a third group that might favor a Gong Show approach as a way to telegraph their displeasure about the glaring incompetence and destructive behavior of this president.
Maybe that’s why Trump has been reluctant to attend sports events or throw out the first ball to signal the start of the baseball season. It’s likely that he might be booed by the crowd, a variant of the Gong Show approach.
Come to think of it, it’s too bad we can’t ask Chuck Barris about that.
In 1984, the “King of Schlock, Baron of Bad Taste and Ayatollah of Trasherola,” decided to return to his hometown of Philadelphia to attend a Flyers hockey game. When the crowd was informed that Barris was in attendance, 16,000 people promptly booed the former Gong Show host and creator of the The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.
But Chuck Barris’ misfortune in his hometown might provide that elusive remedy, in light of the slim chances of impeachment and 25th Amendment measures advancing in Congress.
So be it resolved that as both a Flyers and Chuck Barris fan, I propose that the American people consider a mechanism to vent their frustration with the appalling lack of leadership in this nation. If impeachment has zero chance of success, and if the 25th Amendment route has similar odds, we should simply gather across the country on a specified date soon in our communities, and just boo, emulating the absolute masters of the art, the Boo-birds of Philadelphia.
If Philadelphia was the birthplace of our independence in 1776 and, thirteen years later, the U.S. Constitution, we should ask the citizens of the Quaker City to again provide the leadership to initiate a national movement due to the absence and malfeasance of the country’s Republican “leadership” in dealing with Donald Trump’s disturbing, erratic behavior.
Visualize it now as thousands could gather in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the country to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and be led by a performance of the city’s legendary Boo-birds. The proposed date would be, appropriately enough, Constitution Day, September 17.
In the meantime, we have some time to practice before the big day. So on the count of three, BOOOOOOOO! While you’re at it, pass the mallet for that big GONG.
Denis Smith is a retired school administrator and a former consultant in the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office. He writes about education issues as well as politics and constitutional reform.