Two lawmakers who never agree on anything are taking a stand

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John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Profiles In Courage,” a series of essays that focused on eight senators throughout U.S. history who — despite serious pressures from their colleagues and constituents — did what they believed to be the right and moral thing.

I have always been fascinated with people who find within themselves the ability to defy expectations, anger their presumed allies and follow their own conscience.

It is a rare quality, rarer still in this current climate of tribalism. But last week, two men showed up on my radar screen, polar opposites in their demeanor and their politics.

Their courage derives from a refusal to accommodate the blatant antisemitism that is infecting our streets, our media, our campuses and our hearts in the wake of Oct. 7.

Pennsylvania’s junior Sen. John Fetterman has shown immense integrity, wrapped in Western Pennsylvania grit, by confronting the pro-Palestinian advocates who regularly demand that he condemn Israel.

Not only has he waved an Israeli flag at them, he’s mocked them as they should be mocked.

My favorite incident involved an invocation of the Millenials’ Sacred Temple, when he noted that “It is not appropriate or legal or helpful to advance your argument if you show up in a Starbucks with a bullhorn and start yelling at people.”

Well-played, senator, well-played.

Fetterman has incurred the anger of progressives who are shocked that he has his own mind, and is unwilling to play the puppet for their myriad demands and confusing agendas.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, both sartorially and philosophically, is Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Johnson seems to have tabled consideration of a bipartisan immigration plan, which angered this writer but which made the MAGA crowd happy enough.

That is, until he decided to defy the pressures of the woman I like to call the Gorgon of Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and brought the funding bill for Ukraine and Israel to the floor.

That made him persona non grata with the conservatives, and didn’t make him any new friends among the Democrats.

Johnson is a man standing on his own tiny island. His only companion on that island, apparently, is his conscience.

Last week, he went to Columbia University to stand in solidarity with the Jewish students who were being persecuted and harassed by the same pro-Palestine protesters who’ve been rightly ridiculed by Fetterman.

According to a Reuters report, Johnson’s visit “was meant to support Jewish students intimidated by some anti-Israeli demonstrators [and] took place shortly after the university extended a deadline by 48 hours to Friday morning to reach an agreement to remove an encampment that has come to symbolize the campus protest movement.”

Johnson stood there very publicly in his nerd-chic business attire and horn-rimmed glasses, looking like one of the prep school boys I used to teach AP French to at the Haverford School, and made the same sort of statement Fetterman did in his hoodies: Don’t screw with the Jewish students. Don’t be a bigot.

Those two men could not be more different. But both have a core characteristic that unites them: integrity.

At a time when far too many are afraid to say things that will anger their friends and provoke their enemies, John Fetterman and Mike Johnson are a shining example of what is possible when we ignore the screams of the tribal elders.

To me, they represent a hope for decency that I didn’t quite believe still existed in this society.

As my father used to say, hope is the last thing to die.

It’s on life support, but with these two, it’s still breathing.

Copyright 2024 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].

Christine Flowers is a Philadelphian who loves the Eagles but can leave the cheesesteaks. She writes about anything that will likely annoy the majority of people, and in her spare time practices immigration law (which is bound to annoy at least some people.)