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The words of Joseph Welch today would carry little weight—shame on us.

Robert Hur, who oversaw the 2023/2024 investigation into President Joe Biden's alleged mishandling of classified documents, boasts a BA in literature and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. What he doesn't have—unless it has somehow escaped everyone, including the super sleuths of Wikipedia—is a degree in neurologic studies. He does not appear to be a doctor. So despite all the really cool things he must know about T.S. Eliot and summary judgments, it's doubtful he knows much more about the workings of the human mind and the limits of memory than you or I. And I don't know about you, but I'm not choosing "NEUROLOGY" as a Jeopardy category anytime soon.

And yet Mr. Hur, a Trump nominee for Maryland's U.S. Attorney, saw fit to make scientific pronouncements on the state of mind of Joe Biden, calling him an elderly man with a poor memory. In medical terms, he made the diagnosis, sought no second opinion, and pronounced the malady terminal. In simpler terms, he was judge, jury, and executioner. 

I am not going to deny that Biden may not be able to put all past events in chronological order, but Hur's implication that the president cannot remember when his son died is beyond cynical. It's vile, cruel, vicious, and, for an educated guy like Hur, ignorant. 

In my advanced years, I may not be the most cogent defender of memory, but allow me this example: In 1986

  1. A Soviet Nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded, causing the release of radioactive material across much of Europe.

  2. The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launching, killing all seven astronauts on board.

  3. My father died.

In truth, the second event occurred on my daughter's birthday and fixes itself in my recollection, but if not for that, I would be hard-pressed to put those events in chronological order and may have to plead ignorance if asked. But I know when my father died. Where that fits into the chronology is irrelevant. Why Robert Hur didn't consider that is, in the current political environment, not surprising but abhorrent.

For his part, Donald Trump took some of the heat off Biden by inviting Russia to nuke the rest of Europe—it always helps to have an idiot contending in the same news cycle. And make no mistake—Trump's age is showing even more than Biden's. Trump has become the grumpy old man shooing children off his lawn. His America-first antics (protecting the integrity of a country he despises) are just the most recent example. His own party has begun tap dancing around his inflammatory remarks by reminding us that he was once president and didn't withdraw from NATO and didn't really invite Putin to take some new country home with him. But where is the insight, moderation, and mental balance in his assertions? And is someone so blatantly ignorant of the interconnection of world events really more fit to be president than the man currently juggling three major crises and still working to resolve them—while running for re-election?

Robert Hur should be—but won't be—ashamed of himself. His smug self-righteousness harks back to that of Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, who, while enacting character assassination on an innocent man, was taken to task by an attorney, Joseph Welch, who assailed McCarthy with this: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” And when the obstreperous McCarthy went silent, Welch added, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" 

That decency may very well belong to another age, for it seems that such a Welchian barrage of accusations would not shame Hur, Trump, or most of the Republican party. And maybe in an age when we casually ghost people we know, gaslight others, and use social media for character assassination, we're too steeped in the politics of indecency to recognize it. That, too, is a shame.

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