Learning from Others

Learning from Others

Jane and I routinely record each “PBS NewsHour” program to allow us to watch it whenever it is convenient for us. Typically, we watch the program during dinner, but the time at which we eat can vary. The recording is always there whenever the time is right for us to watch it. We consider PBS to be our best source of news to keep ourselves honestly informed.

We just returned last weekend after almost two weeks of vacation on a trip to Scandinavia that was planned before the pandemic but only now felt safe to take. We did not get to keep up with the NewsHour daily as we do as part of our regular routine at home. However, what we were able to do was to tune in almost daily to BBC News in the evenings. We sometimes watch BBC World News at home, but the past couple of weeks were especially informative. As you no doubt know from local reporting, the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, has been forced by events to resign from his position of power. Being in another part of the world and watching the story unfold by a source other than American news reporting was fascinating and very thought provoking.

Boris Johnson has been referred to as a norm-busting politician whose rise to power and his scandal-plagued administration offer some resemblance to a former president of the United States. Indeed, it was the parallels between the two that continued to run through my head as I watched the continuous coverage of the events that led to Johnson stepping down. The BBC coverage of the number of lies and lack of integrity made clear that Johnson was unfit for leadership. They were reporting what members of Johnson’s administration were saying publicly about him as first ten members of his administration, then 39, then 50 members resigned. He was being brought down by members of his own administration.

Contrast that with the experience in the United States when the president continued to be involved in scandals and behavior unsuitable for his office. The 25th Amendment provides a method of removing a president from office, but it was never invoked. His party rallied around him regardless of his outlandish behavior and clear lack of ethics or leadership skills. Some even participated in his treacherous act to try to keep the presidency when he was clearly defeated at the polls. Now, with the better-late-than-never January 6 hearings we are seeing how unsavory the administration was not only at the top but throughout the executive branch. A small but important minority of members of that administration are finally coming forth with unbelievable detail as to what was going on during the administration. A shocking number are pleading the Fifth Amendment.

How much prouder we could have been as Americans if the people around the former president had removed him just as the members of the Boris Johnson administration are doing to him in the UK. It is a lesson we must learn from others.