‘To Bind the Nation’s Wounds’: President Trump, You Have a Great Opportunity
Dear President Trump,
On October 3, 1992, during an appearance on Saturday Night Live, Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II, roaring “Fight the real enemy!” The next week, host Joe Pesci held up the same picture taped back together.
Last night, Nancy Pelosi — whether in petulant bitterness or cold viral video seeking calculation — ripped up your speech. Your constitutionally-demanded report. Shredded the document and tossed it aside, right after you finished. Right after you had said:
I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us! Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.
We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them. … No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.
Right after all but the coldest heart was melted by Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams reuniting with his family, as a teary bipartisan chamber offered thunderous applause. Right after a rare moment of national unity. And Pelosi ripped it up. She took it away from us right as we were enjoying its sweetness.
You, sir, can give it back. For good.
A Golden Opportunity
Today — this very day — you have an amazing, historic opportunity. In a matter of hours, the U.S. Senate will vote to acquit you on two Articles of Impeachment. It would be natural to want to take a victory dance. To gloat. To spike the ball. To celebrate as Bill Clinton did. After last night, it’d be tempting — oh, so tempting — to hold up those two articles and rip them up. “I”ll show you something worth shredding!”
That would feel so good. For about 20 seconds.
But what would be good? To follow the lead of Joe Pesci. Show up with your speech figuratively … if not literally … taped back together. To follow the example of Abraham Lincoln. To strive to “bind the nation’s wounds.”
President Trump today — this very day — you can go a long way toward healing the breach. Pelosi and the Petulant Resistance has shown what it’s like to be poor losers. Teach America what it’s like to be a good winner. Show Grace. Show Dignity. Be Forgiving. Be Humble. Been months since you and Pelosi talked? Get her on the horn. Maybe even apologize for missing the opportunity to shake her hand.
You won the impeachment battle. You won last night. Your Democratic foes suffered an unbelievable humiliation in Iowa. Be gracious in victory, as the Democrats have been so ungracious in defeat, and what a turning point it can be for the country.
I know it’s in your nature. I remember how right after the election you angered many supporters. To those shouting “Lock her up,” you as President-elect said, “Let it go.” It’s no accident so many who battled you so fiercely in 2016 are now friends, allies, cabinet members or golfing buddies.
Trust Your Instinct
You’ve got amazing instincts. I think you know the time has come. After three years of engaging in the brawl, I think you know the time has come for turning the other cheek, showing the love.
We saw this in your kept promise to be “low key” last night. We saw it last week in your choice to have mild-mannered Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin be your main voice at the impeachment trial. While Adam Schiff was ranting that you want to sell Alaska back to Russia, Philbin quietly made the case.
You know how to read a crowd. Nancy Pelosi does not. What is most amazing about her act was how terribly she read the room. Obviously her stunt was planned. But to go ahead with it coming off such a rousing, powerful, bipartisan couple of minutes, was utterly tone deaf.
Most people, certainly most independents, are sick of the bitterness, sick of the divide. We want to be friendly on Facebook again, want to be standing next to somebody different cheering the same thing — like a returning vet. That’s where America was in that moment … that’s where Congress was at that moment … and she ripped it away.
You, sir, can quickly put it back.
Don Jr.’s Instagram imagery says it better than I can. Surround hate and division with the linked arms of unity and love. And squeeze.
Tired of Fighting
The builder in you knows how this works. Like you did with the Old Post Office Building across from the White House, you’ve done the demo, now comes the beautiful remodel.
You’ve got the economic heart of America pounding hard. Now turn to nurturing America’s soul.
You’ve shown us the bloody, unbowed street fighter. Show us the “better angels of our nature.”
Today, in this hour of political victory, show us the greatest victory is to love one another.
May the grace and wisdom of God guide you.
Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream and co-author, with @JZmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl. And if you aren’t already, please follow The Stream at @Streamdotorg.