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Thank you, George W. Bush and Sally Yates

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- "So this is how it's going to work today," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders informed the press corps Monday. She told reporters that "if you want to ask a question," you should "start off with what you're thankful for."

Like good little girls and boys, several obliged. The reporters were grateful for their children, their spouses, their health and the privilege of getting to ask questions at the White House. Then there was John Gizzi of Newsmax, thankful to his wife "for saying yes on the fourth request. My question is about Zimbabwe … "

I prefer to share my thoughts of gratitude with my family at the Thanksgiving table, rather than when commanded to by a Trump mouthpiece. But maybe Sanders was onto something with her infantilizing of the press corps. Maybe in this week of Thanksgiving, we all should speak about what we are grateful for in public life. I'll start.

Sarah, I am thankful for the checks and balances the Founders put in place, for they are what stand between us and despotism when a demagogic president's instincts would take us there. And I am profoundly grateful to the many men and women who, often at great personal cost and risk, have stood up to the authoritarian in the White House. President Trump has done much damage, particularly to our international standing and our civil culture, but it would be so much worse without these profiles in courage.

I'm thankful for James Comey, who was fired because he refused to be bullied by Trump into curtailing the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

I'm thankful for Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who after an initial stumble redeemed himself by naming a special counsel to carry on the Russia probe.

 

I'm thankful for Robert Mueller III, like Comey a veteran of both Republican and Democratic administrations, who is pursuing the probe without yielding to Trump's trash talk.

I'm thankful for Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau and others who are trying to maintain international order and to fill the void in world leadership left by Trump's retreat.

I'm thankful for Sally Yates, who forced Trump to fire her as acting attorney general rather than enforce his unconstitutional ban on travelers from Muslim-majority nations.

I'm thankful for Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, who blocked the travel ban and endured taunts from Trump of being a "so-called judge" who should be blamed if violence occurred.

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