Hello Everyone,

Over the past several days, I have been working on a comprehensive commentary which attempts to explain, first to myself, how someone with Donald Trump’s deeply-flawed character could be the presumptive Republican nominee.  That will come your way soon.

Then, Muhammad Ali died.

In the global outpouring of respect accorded him, I have been struck by the contrasts between these two men — with seemingly similar personalities, but vastly different characters.

Both Ali and Trump first garnered attention for their bombastic, over-the-top styles.  “I am the greatest.”  “You’re fired!”  But, the comparison stops there.

Mohammad Ali’s life is a perfect and timely prism through which to examine Donald Trump’s life.  Trump seems to be all bombast absent any apparent sacrifice or evidence of having led a principled life.  He is only four years younger than Ali, but what has he done over his nearly 70 years except call attention to himself and amass a fortune?

I am about nine months younger than Ali and have followed him since 1960, when he won gold at the Olympics, and I went off to college.  We both lived, albeit with drastically different experiences, through the tumultuous cultural changes of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

I well remember being put off at first by his unbridled braggadocio.  However, I (much more discretely) adopted an anti-Vietnam War posture while I was an active duty Army officer about the time that Ali resisted the draft.  He was banned from boxing and sentenced for it, interrupting his career much as I had interrupted mine (although, in his case, at an infinitely greater sacrifice).

Ali’s death reminds us of his highly textured, multi-layered life.  He is remembered not only for his boxing and bombast, but for his principles.  Ali courted controversy and sacrificed a great deal in converting to Islam, becoming a conscientious objector and draft resister, and fighting racism.  How will we remember Trump when he dies?

Ali’s conversion to Islam and its profound effect on his life is instructive in today’s highly-charged atmosphere.  Observers have emphasized that Islam’s message of peace was the principal reason that Ali refused to submit to the draft.  Think of the stark contrasts between that and ISIL’s ruthlessness, on the one hand, and Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering this country, on the other.

Among the many tributes, Sunday’s lead segment on “Meet the Press” most resonated with me.

Football legend and civil rights activist Jim Brown and long-time sportscaster and Today show host Bryant Gumbel, who will talk at Ali’s service, contributed along with sportscaster Bob Costas, while Chuck Todd moderated.  I commend it to you, if you missed it:  http://www.nbc.com/meet-the-press/video/meet-the-press-june-5-2016/3045540  It’s at the start of the program and lasts about ten minutes.

Appropriately, Chuck Todd’s interview with Sen. Mitch McConnell immediately followed.  During it, the Senator wouldn’t agree that Trump’s attacks on the judge hearing the Trump University case were racist.  And, he said that he is now supporting Trump because winning the White House is the only thing that matters.  Another startling contrast with the character displayed by Muhammad Ali.

[Corrections:  It has been pointed out to me that in #101, I made a few errors.  Undoubtedly, there have been many others over the years. Here are my corrections.  Obviously, in 2007 Barrack Obama was a U.S. senator, no longer a state senator.  We made a typo indicating that the so-called Tea Party movement started in 2008, not 2009.  And, the infamous Cong. Joe Wilson incident happened during President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009, not a State of the Union address.  My apologies.]

Please, as always, pass it on.  And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com

 

Chuck

 

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