It was a symphony of human emotion—pain, outrage, mourning, hope; a symphony of human discourse with fugues of compassion, admonition and encouragement.
It was quintessential adult leadership, too rarely seen these days. “It” was the closing statement of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), chair of the House Oversight Committee, as the group wound down the recent hearing at which Michael Cohen testified about the transgressions of the alleged leader of the free world.
Opening slowly, painfully, pianissimo, the chair's closing statement rose to a crescendo with the now familiar “we’re better than that” before settling, andante, to recognize Michael Cohen’s personal pain. Cummings concluded with hope: Addressing Cohen directly as Trump’s former lawyer faces a prison term, he said, “Hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better … a better … a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America and a better world.”
It was a pitch-perfect closing statement, during which Cummings showed empathy for the admittedly flawed witness, recognized the dire condition of our democracy, and defended the vital work of the committee he leads.
“The greatest gift we can give our children is an intact democracy, he remarked. “I hope the things you said today can help us get back there.”
(In case you missed the closing statement, see it here.)
Throughout the day, Cummings had guided the committee with a steady hand and consideration for those on both sides of the aisle.
In short, Cummings was consistently the adult, no matter how juvenile and contentious others might be.
Closing, he told listeners we need “to get back to normal.” If leaders strive towards the standards the honorable chairman sets, we can, in the long run, do that. And we must. Interviewed after the hearing, Cummings stated simply, "This fight is a fight for the soul of our democracy.” That says it all.
In Praise of Elijah Cummings _______________________________________________________________
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Thoughts for Our Time
“Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.”