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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

 

In 1960, when John F. Kennedy was running for the White House against Richard Nixon, winning Democratic presidential tickets still depended on the backing of segregationist party colleagues in the Southern states.

In October of that year, when Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and sent to jail on a trumped-up traffic charge in Georgia, his wife, Coretta, then five months pregnant, was legitimately worried about her husband’s safety and survival. Kennedy’s Southern backers told him not to intervene. But after the persistent advocacy of Harris Wofford and Wofford’s close friend Sargent Shriver (JFK’s brother-in-law), Kennedy — ignoring the arguments of his own campaign leadership, including his brother Robert — called Mrs. King to offer his comfort and sympathy to her and to say he would do whatever he could to see that justice would be done.

Blacks in the South who could vote at that time were, out of gratitude to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and because local Democrats did not welcome them to the voter rolls, overwhelmingly Republican. “Daddy King,” one of the South’s most influential ministers and Martin Jr.’s father, was in Coretta Scott King’s home when she answered Kennedy’s call. He was skeptical of Kennedy’s Catholicism and sympathetic to Nixon. After the call, he said the following: “If Kennedy has the courage to wipe the tears from Coretta’s eyes, (I) will vote for him whatever his religion.” Nixon remained silent. After Democrats delivered Daddy King’s endorsement to the national black communities, JFK’s narrow victory, with a smashing 79 percent of the U.S. black vote, was secure. And the national Democratic Party would abandon the segregationist South to champion federal civil rights laws.

In Wofford’s single winning campaign, his 1991 upset win over Dick Thornburgh for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, he ran on an issue that many national Democrats had told him would be a loser, national health care. Wofford, after a conversation with a Philadelphia doctor, insisted on making a TV ad in which he said straightforwardly: “If criminals have the right to a lawyer, I think working Americans should have the right to a doctor. … I’m Harris Wofford, and I believe there is nothing more fundamental than the right to see a doctor when you’re sick.” Wofford won, and the national debate on health care was profoundly changed, such that 20 years later, the Affordable Care Act could become the law of the land.

Harris Wofford, a committed American citizen who died this past week at 92, proved conclusively that one individual and two political campaigns can change our nation.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

 

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)