There it was, a perfect attack column, as big as a pumpkin, perched on a tee, just waiting for my Louisville Slugger to smash it to smithereens. I had the ammo. I had the headline (Profile in Cowardice). And then I realized that Oklahoma Sen. James Paul Lankford’s predicament was predominantly sad.

          Sen. Lankford earned a smattering of national attention a couple weeks back when he promised to intervene to make sure that President-Elect Joe Biden received intelligence briefings in preparation for assuming office.

          As reported by Huffington Post, Lankford told Tulsa’s KRMG radio on Nov. 11 that there’s “’nothing wrong’ with Biden receiving highly classified briefings about national security that President Donald Trump is offered daily.

          “There is no loss from him getting the briefings,” said Lankford, a member of the Senate Oversight Committee, promising, “And if that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well and … say, ‘This needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task.’”

          I sent the senator an email congratulating on his stand. On Nov. 13 his answer (which put us on a middle-name basis) included nonsense about the undecided nature of the election, but noted:

          “Simply stated, we should follow that (2000 election) precedent and allow both candidates to receive the same pre-election intelligence briefings while the process of confirming election results works its way through the process….

          “National security is not a partisan political issue – it is essential for every American.  Two decades ago, the 9/11 Commission Report emphasized the importance of continuity for national security purposes even in a disputed election.  Continuing the intelligence briefings does not acknowledge a winner in the race, it only assures that we are keeping our priority focus on national security.”

          But, on Nov. 17, HuffPost noted Little James Paul “retreated on Monday (Nov. 16) from his full-throated call for the Trump administration to grant President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team access to highly classified intelligence briefings.”

          Yep, in the space of week, Little James Paul got a hard lesson in realpolitik – which repudiates moral considerations in politics – and independent thinking: it ain’t allowed within the Republican Party. I wonder who called him out, what was yelled, who slapped his wrist, who cowed him back into the GOP sheepfold?

          I guess his good Christian raising had given him the dangerous notion that speaking up for what’s right and true is the way to go. No. No. No. Not without consequences.

          You’d’ve thought he would have realized this before turning 52. (I had already been black-listed twice by that age.) Those meanies shouldn’t have treated him that way.

          I envied his naiveté. That’s why I jettisoned my mean-spirited Profile in Cowardice column in favor of sympathy for Little James Paul learning a hard life lesson much later than most of us.

          The irony, of course, is that this deals with getting President-Elect Biden access to intelligence briefings when it is common knowledge that intelligent officials dumb-down intelligence reports for our disinterested Golfer-in- Chief, who prefers self-affirming propaganda from Faux News.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: or

Little James Paul learns hard lesson

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