In ABC-TV’s Designated Survivor, a low-level cabinet appointee finds himself thrust into the position of President of the United States. This was w-a-y back when that title of president actually meant something.
Before our election.
There’s enough silliness in Designated Survivor to keep us from confusing it with the evening news, but the president himself is a sensitive, well-spoken, and intelligent man with a desire for fairness and honesty. My wife and I often smile when he speaks: the contrast with the current White House nitwit is so glaring that we both imagine the show’s writers laughing hysterically as the fictional POTUS talks about human rights and history.
Designated Survivor has a shoot ‘em-up aspect too, as law enforcement groups seek out a treasonous cabal right there in the White House. That aspect centers on an agent named Hannah Wells, but the name and details are not significant…except that Ms. Wells is portrayed by an actor named Maggie Q. She’s from Hawaii which, in case you’ve forgotten, Jeff Sessions reminded us was an “island in the Pacific.”
I thought of Maggie Q this week when Sally Q. Yates was facing down her tormentors with a deadly combination of unemotional arguments and unalloyed truth. The Republicans who allowed her to testify must have been regretting that decision as she stared down Senator Charles Grassley who accused her (falsely) of leaking the Michael Flynn problem, and Dancing with the Stars‘ Ted Cruz who used his time to complain about Hillary Clinton’s email practices. Ms. Yates saved the best for John Cornyn who called her “enormously disappointing” for not defending Trump’s Muslim ban. She told the committee she would never carry out any presidential order that was unconstitutional.
No soup for you! Next!
I said yesterday that the Comey firing should not distract us from the health care problem. By the same token, Sally Q. Yates’ honest and courageous—even inspiring—testimony should not be allowed to evanesce into the fetid smog of Trump’s Washington without giving this former acting attorney general her due.
Get her a talk show. Have her guest-host SNL. Hire her as a tutor for the president. In short do anything that prevents her appearance before that sub-committee from becoming a mere footnote. It needs to be a headline—the opening salvo in a war against obfuscation and falsehood—those two pillars of the Trump White House.
In a country that desperately needs heroes, Sally Q. Yates has adventitiously become one. Unlike Maggie Q’s character, Ms. Yates hasn’t been traipsing through the country brandishing assault weapons. But she has proven that words spoken with integrity and intelligence can still find asylum somewhere in our collective psyche.
Those words, of course, can also get you fired.
We need more heroics. We need more firings.