The winners of the 2005 Profiles In Courage Awards have been announced by the John F. Kennedy Library, and — wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles — a REPUBLICAN is among them this year. Could it be George W. Bush, for going against the combined “collective wisdom” and bringing about the seeds of democracy among the Muslim world? How about Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his lifetime achievement from barely-literate in English immigrant to celebrated entertainer and governor of the most populous state? Or perhaps George H. W. Bush, for hearing his son’s call to duty while in his 80’s and travelling the world (alongside the seemingly-indefatigable Bill Clinton) in support of tsunami relief.
Nah. It turns out that a single Texas Republican state senator opposed the 2003 redistricting plan that caused such a stir down there. One guy,Bill Ratliff, stood up to the rest of the Repubs on their plan to redraw Congressional districts to screw the Democrats out of some seats.
(Author’s note: if it seems like I’m siding with Ratliff on this one, that’s because I am. I’ve always believed that redistricting should be done strictly after a census, and the lines should be drawn to be as contiguous as possible while roughly equalizing population. The move by the Texas GOP was a contemptible, naked power-grab, and I laughed my ass off when the Democrats countered by up and leaving the state, depriving the legislature of a quorum to pass it. Ratliff did the right thing, and deserves praise. But I’m making a larger point here.)
The other politician to win was Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who was lauded for, among other things, raising taxes.
The third winner was U.S. Army Specialist Joseph M. Darby, who helped break the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. I’m all for praising Specialist Darby for obeying the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as his own conscience and sense of honor, but to lump him in with the rest of the Award’s winners seems to politicize his actions — probably not in ways he would intend them to.
I wish the JFK Library would just come out and admit that the Profiles In Courage award is aimed primarily for Democrats, and stop the spin that it’s for any politician or other figure who acts courageously in public.