By Brent Budowsky - 04/04/13 03:33 PM EDT
John Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage about members of the Senate who rose above cowardice and fear to do what was right for the nation.
Today there are tears from the children of Newtown in heaven because profiles in cowardice are defeating profiles in courage in the capital of our country. The NRA bully of extremism is on the march. The rest of Washington is in retreat. It is a pathetic sight for men and women of courage and honor to behold. What President Obama said Wednesday was true. The children deserve a vote and the nation deserves a law.
Even when the innocent are murdered and one of their own is wounded, that does not move them to rise above their fear and say no to the bully. Not even then.
The children of Newtown are killed in a murderous rampage and the whole nation mourns for them. The sunshine patriots of political valor promise they will belatedly act, until the boot of the bully presses down on their necks and the sour stench of surrender again stinks up this town.
Ban on military-style assault weapons: surrender.
Limit on high-capacity magazines: surrender.
Major increase in mental care spending: died on the vine of that great symbol of official Washington, the sequester — an idiot policy implemented with an idiot formula that forced decimating cuts to mental health programs.
Limiting entertainment violence from Hollywood: Ha! A few sweet words, followed by nothing, that does not even rise to the standard of surrender.
Limiting violence in video games in which slaughter and killing are enjoyed as fun and games: nothing, of course.
The charlatans who speak of courage in a town of cowards might not even pass background checks, which are supported by 90 percent of the nation.
When I was a younger man and this town was a nobler place, I worked for Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, the mother of all gun states. President Carter nominated a member of Congress named Abner Mikva to the Court of Appeals. Mikva had supported gun control in the House and the NRA vowed to defeat his nomination.
Bentsen asked how I thought he should vote. I had a private deal with Bentsen that I would never suggest he support gun control. I reminded him of our deal but he asked me again. I advised he vote yes. Bentsen replied:
“I have known Ab Mikva for many years. He is a good man. Tell our friends at the NRA that I am voting to confirm him. Brent, sometimes in this town you have to just do what is right,” he told me.
I have never forgotten those words.
Nobody bullied Lloyd Bentsen.
Nobody bullies Gabby Giffords.
Bentsen won a landslide in his next election in Texas. Giffords will win in a landslide if she ever runs again, which I fervently hope she does.
There is a Latin phrase, “in loco parentis.” It means: in the place of the parents. Nothing can take the place of parents, but when matters of state affect the life and death of children, we elders should accept responsibility and act as though every child is our own son or daughter, whether they are men and women on the battlefield or boys and girls in the schools.
Today there is far too little “in loco parentis” in our Congress, and far too much “loco” in our politics.
There is far too much violence in America, far too much hatred, hurt and death, and far too many profiles in cowardice from those who kneel before the bully and fail to put the children first.
Kennedy and Bentsen were right. What Obama said Wednesday was right. Voters will respect those with the courage to lead.
But if cowardice defeats courage yet again, the next round of carnage against children will bring more tears in heaven, and the blood will be on the hands of the bullies and cowards alike.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.