“We only seek to find the truth and set it free,” reads the slogan of the nonpartisan public affairs forum, San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club. Before the Club moved to temporary headquarters, en route to its brand new offices which are set to open sometime this year, I always loved riding the elevator to the meeting rooms – and reading that message in large script on the entry wall.
Today, finding the truth is a tall order.
Warning: This is a political column. Despite my avowed intention to stay out of politics until there is at least a ray of hope somewhere, politics just won’t go away.
Recently the Commonwealth Club hosted a program titled “Trump’s First 100 Days: Part One.” Panelists included two women: Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the SF Bay Area Council on American-Islamic Relations (a US-born citizen); and retired CA Supreme Court Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, Chair, Santa Clara Jail Commission (and the great-granddaughter of slaves, she mentioned at one point.) They were two impressive citizens. This writer would have been happy to spend an hour listening to their understandings and perspectives.
Also on the panel were two white male gentlemen who dominated (unless the Moderator intervened) the conversation: Steven Fish, Professor of Political Science, University of California Berkeley, and Sean Walsh, GOP Political Strategist.
Riding herd on this well-informed, and certainly passionate about their positions, quartet was Scott Shafer, Senior Editor, California Politics & Government, KQED – which is partnering with the Commonwealth Club on these programs.
If I were covering this extremely interesting event for a non-fake news outlet, it could be effectively done in about 10,000 words. Instead, I offer here the excerpted (wildly condensed) responses each panelist had to Shafer’s opening question: In this bizarre beginning – it was 38 days in when this program aired – to the Trump presidency, “what jumps out at you?”
Steven Fish: “It is not clear that the president of the United States is completely loyal to his own country, or the ideals of democracy.”
Judge Cordell: “We should be talking about the first 100 lies.” (She expounded on that at some length, and with clear, concise accuracy, ticking off the lie and the truth.)
Samara Billoo: “There is a sense of fear in my community,” spurred by “racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic” messages coming from the White House and its Republican allies.
Sean Walsh: “He does not have his advisers, transition people, in place. He (our president) is in the process of putting his administration in place.”
It’s going to be a long 100 days, and then some.