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EDITORIAL: Mr. Reed, We Knew John Chafee and Claiborne Pell and We Wish You Were Like Them

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Senators John Chafee and Claiborne Pell

It is certainly embarrassing for U.S. Senator Jack Reed to get caught on an open mic calling the President of the United States “crazy.” While to err is human, it was unintentional for the comments to be public, and through a simple apology, the matter could be put to rest.

However, instead of issuing a mea culpa, Senator Reed doubled-down and refused to apologize. Most shocking was that he failed to apologize for those who suffer and treat mental illness who view the word “crazy” as demeaning, stigmatizing, and derogatory.

Reed’s decision not to apologize shifts Reed from one of those members of Congress that so many of us appreciate that have worked hard to stay out of the negative and personal language that is now becoming the norm in Washington, D.C.  Maybe Reed should reconsider his double-down on his words and listen to the words of his colleague John McCain. 

As McCain said in his statement on the Senate floor this week as he returned while fighting brain cancer, “I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.” 

Today is Washington there is little decorum and the collegial respect that once ruled in the United States Senate has been replaced by cheap political theater by both parties — sit-ins and weekly lectures. Those antics are only rivaled by an endless slew of crude tweets by President Trump.

What one would hope is that regardless of Senator Reed’s view of the President’s political machinations, Rhode Island’s senior senator’s judgment would not be driven by a motivation to take the dialogue to a new all-time low.  It is embarrassing for Rhode Island and puts the State in peril.

One of the roles that our Congressional delegation has is to advocate for Rhode Island citizens, companies, and needs. How effective do you think the senior Senator will be calling the White House asking for support for a federal grant or expediting and declaration of a state of emergency for a response to a natural disaster.

Reed can’t have it both ways. If he thinks the President is mentally unfit, he has an obligation to submit a resolution into the U.S. Senate asking the House to immediately take up the articles of impeachment and if he does not have that view, he owes it to the office of the President, America, and Rhode Islanders to issue an apology for his inappropriate language.

Mr. Reed, you should be better than partisan bluster and petty insults. We thought you were - Chafee and Pell were.


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