Opinion

Aurora reminds us: Two decent men running for president

Photo of Lanny Davis
Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton
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      Lanny Davis

      Lanny J. Davis counsels individuals, corporations and government contractors, and those under congressional scrutiny, on crisis management and legal issues by developing legal, media and legislative strategies that are designed to best produce a successful result for the client. He has experience in securities fraud and SEC investigations as well, and has found that utilizing such an integrated legal/media/lobbying approach can lead to quicker and less expensive settlements or even successfully litigated outcomes. Senior officials of public companies have also hired Lanny and his crisis group to defend themselves successfully against "short and distort" attacks and other market manipulations. For 25 years prior to 1996, before his tenure as special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny was a commercial, antitrust, government contracts and False Claims Act litigator (both in defense as well as plaintiff). He has argued numerous appellate cases in the U.S. courts of appeals.

      In June 2005, President Bush appointed Lanny to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. In that capacity, he received the highest level security clearances so that he could be fully briefed and "read in" to the various anti-terrorist surveillance and financial tracking programs at the highest classified level. From 1996 to 1998, Lanny served as special counsel to the president in the White House and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. Lanny has participated in national, state and local politics for almost 30 years. He has served three terms (1980 to 1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the state of Maryland, and during that period he served on the DNC Executive Committee and as chairman of the Eastern Region Caucus. In Montgomery County, Maryland, he served as chairman of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission.

      Lanny has authored several books and lectured throughout the United States and Europe on various political issues. Between 1990 and 1996, Lanny was a bimonthly commentator on Maryland politics for WAMU-88.5/FM, a Washington, D.C. local affiliate of National Public Radio. He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, he Washington Post and other national publications.

      Lanny graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. A graduate of Yale University, Lanny served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.

      Lanny is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Connecticut and before the Supreme Court of the United States and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo., we were reminded that there remains in the world the existence of pure, sociopathic evil — an inhuman monster who celebrates death and has no sensations from a beating heart of feelings, empathy or anything other than the glorification of death.

The impulse to extrapolate, exploit and, yes, politicize such a tragedy is hard to overcome. As my Republican friend and fellow blogger Rich Galen wrote on Sunday night:

“I do not want to diminish, in any way, the gravity and horror of the event that occurred in Aurora, Colo., Friday morning. … There are no easy answers. There are no black-and-white solutions. Sometimes bad people do bad things.”

Two men, however — one is our president; the other would like to be — came forward and reminded us who they really are and made us feel good about them, ourselves and our country again.

President Obama, talking to what was supposed to be a political rally in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday morning, about 11 hours after the tragedy, spoke the right words with the right tone and made us proud that he was our president, regardless of party or partisan loyalties.

“If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and precious.

“My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater?

“There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”

About an hour later, on the East Coast in Bow, N.H., Mitt Romney said:

“I stand before you not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband and American.”

Romney also offered the serenity of a man of faith, and tried to provide a sense of hope even in the midst of the incomprehensible and senseless murders of innocent people.

“Today we feel not only a sense of grief, but perhaps also of helplessness. But there is something we can do,” Romney said. “We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy-laden. We can mourn with those that mourn in Colorado.”

He went on to quote a verse in 2nd Corinthians: “Blessed be God who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.”

“What we do know is how evil is overcome, and we’re seeing that great power today in the goodness and compassion of a wounded community,” he said.

I wondered: How many Americans who heard these two men taking a time-out from the venom and name-calling of this campaign felt like I did when I heard their comments on Friday — as if a cool breeze had cut through the stifling hot air of this depressing presidential campaign?