Opinion | If We Had a Real Leader – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

“This week I had a conversation that left a mark. It was with Mary Louise Kelly and E.J. Dionne on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and it was about how past presidents had handled moments of national mourning — Lincoln after Gettysburg, Reagan after the Challenger explosion and Obama after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

The conversation left me wondering what America’s experience of the pandemic would be like if we had a real leader in the White House.

If we had a real leader, he would have realized that tragedies like 100,000 Covid-19 deaths touch something deeper than politics: They touch our shared vulnerability and our profound and natural sympathy for one another.

In such moments, a real leader steps outside of his political role and reveals himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers.

If we had a real leader, she would speak of the dead not as a faceless mass but as individual persons, each seen in unique dignity. Such a leader would draw on the common sources of our civilization, the stores of wisdom that bring collective strength in hard times.

Lincoln went back to the old biblical cadences to comfort a nation. After the church shooting in Charleston, Barack Obama went to “Amazing Grace,” the old abolitionist anthem that has wafted down through the long history of African-American suffering and redemption.

In his impromptu remarks right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy recalled the slaying of his own brother and quoted Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

If we had a real leader, he would be bracingly honest about how bad things are, like Churchill after the fall of Europe. He would have stored in his upbringing the understanding that hard times are the making of character, a revelation of character and a test of character. He would offer up the reality that to be an American is both a gift and a task. Every generation faces its own apocalypse, and, of course, we will live up to our moment just as our ancestors did theirs.”

Opinion | Hating the Word ‘Hate’ – by Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

“When Rosen asked, “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?” Pelosi wagged her finger and retorted, “I don’t hate anybody.”

With more to say, she strode back to the microphones: “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president.” Before walking off, she delivered the coup de grâce to a chastened Rosen: “So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Within the hour, the president had predictably tweet-trashed her, saying she had “a nervous fit,” returning to the threadbare canard of women as hysterics. He said he did not believe that Pelosi prayed for him.

But she does. I talked to her about it in August, when she was still keeping impeachment at bay, after we visited the chapel at Trinity, where she went to college.

She said that she prays for the president at night in her apartment in Georgetown and in church on Sunday. “The prayer,” she said, “is that God will open his heart to meet the needs of the American people.”

She said that she even complained to her pastor that her prayers were not working.

“Maybe you’re not praying hard enough,” the priest replied.”

Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

“There has been an emperor in Japan for more than 15 centuries, making the Chrysanthemum Throne the world’s oldest continuous monarchy. On Tuesday, the emperor stepped down, yielding to his eldest son in the first abdication in 200 years. This is the family’s story.

We know him as Akihito, the emperor of Japan, a gentle figure who championed peace in a nation devastated by war. But she called him Jimmy.

It was the autumn of 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War, and he was a 12-year-old boy, the crown prince of a defeated land, sitting in an unheated classroom on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, a new American teacher insisted on a more prosaic name for his highness. His father, the wartime emperor, Hirohito, had been revered as a god, but she made clear he never would be.

“In this class, your name is Jimmy,” declared the teacher, Elizabeth Gray Vining, a 44-year-old librarian and children’s book author from Philadelphia.

“No,” Akihito swiftly replied. “I am Prince.””

Source: Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor, but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – The New York Times