The President and the Journalist
Of course, Donald Trump is not just another president, and Cokie Roberts was not just another journalist. Cokie was, in her way, the epitome of the Washington elite; daughter of the powerful, friend of the connected, respected by everybody; a card-carrying member of the Swamp Culture, which is to say a brilliant reporter. She used her experience to inform and to educate. She used her contacts to find the truth.
Her death should be an occasion not only to mourn the loss of a pioneer but also to celebrate the profession she loved and the skill with which the ultimate insiders kept the insiders honest.
It is an opportunity to remember journalism as an essential element of our constitutional system, a check and a balance of the power of government. Its freedom guarantees ours. That's the First Amendment.
All the other presidents -- Bush and Barack and Bill -- said nice things. What would possess a man to do anything else on the day of a much-accomplished patriot's passing?
Donald Trump didn't meet her.
She wasn't nice to him.
What else is there to know? That was his comment.
A life spent in pursuit of truth, in service of the First Amendment, was dismissed because he is all that ever matters. It was a life spent raising a family, supporting the community, being a friend across all party lines -- the best American.
Reagan would never have said such a thing. He would have picked up the phone. He would have spoken for all of us to communicate our condolences.
We took for granted that that is what presidents do. They exist, at least in moments like this, at a place above politics, where we are all Americans. It is the place we go to when we are under attack, when the planes crashed, when the bombs hit. It is a place this president refuses to even go near.