Keeping a Promise

Friday, December 08, 2017
by Patrick Dorinson

The epic novel, Lonesome Dove, is a saga of two retired Texas Rangers, Captain Woodrow F. Call and Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae, who drive cattle and blaze trails from Texas to Montana in the 1870s.

Lonesome Dove is based on the lives of real Texas legends Charlie Goodnight and Oliver Loving who drove herds of longhorn cattle and established the Goodnight-Loving Trail from Central Texas to New Mexico. Their trail eventually went up to Denver and even Kansas City where it met the railheads that would ship their  beef east to feed a hungry population.

When Loving died at Fort Sumner in New Mexico Territory, he told his old compadre that he didn’t want to be buried in a “foreign land” and asked Goodnight to take his body back to Texas for burial.

But Goodnight had to finish the drive they had begun together and make sure the cows got to their final destination before he could make good on Loving’s dying request.

When the drive was finished he returned to Fort Sumner and took the body which had been packed in salt to preserve it and returned it to Texas for burial.

In Lonesome Dove the story remains basically the same with some poetic license.

When Woodrow finally buries Gus in Texas after the long arduous journey home he says, “I guess this’ll teach me to be careful what I promise in the future”.

Like Charlie Goodnight in real life and Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove, this week President Trump fulfilled a promise that itself has taken a long and arduous journey.

Twenty two years ago a promise was made by Congress regarding Israel.

In 1995 the Jerusalem Embassy Act declared that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  It also stated that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city and that it be recognized as the capital of Israel.

It passed overwhelmingly with a vote in the Senate of 93 to 5 and the House of Representatives 374 to 37.

But like much of what Congress does it had an escape clause because it stated that every six months the President could issue a waiver postponing any final decision.

Since the law was passed Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all punted every six months and issued waivers even though they all passionately voiced their support on the issue in their presidential campaigns.

President Trump also passionately supported this issue in 2016.

And like his predecessors last June he issued a waiver on the advice no doubt of all the wizards at the State Department whose own predecessors warned President Truman not to recognize the new State of Israel at its birth in 1948.

Just as Harry Truman declared the United States the first nation to recognize Israel defying the so-called foreign policy experts in Washington, Donald Trump declared that the United States would once and for all fulfill the promise Congress made in 1995.

Now some of the same people who voted in 1995 to support the Jerusalem Embassy Act are rending their garments, gnashing their teeth and wailing in loud voices that President Trump has thrown the whole Middle East into chaos, upset the Arabs and Palestinians and put the non-existent “peace process” at risk!

Now is not the right time they cry!

But the question is when will it ever be the right time?

The situation in the Middle East has changed over the last year.

Under Secretary of Defense Mattis, ISIS is on the run and running out of places to run to.

The Sunni Arab nations are realizing that their biggest threat ain’t Israel but Iran.

And now that we are producing our own oil in vast quantities we don’t need theirs as much.

Oh, they will squawk and make loud statements so as to placate the famous “Arab street” but deep down they know that they need the United States more than we need them.

President Trump doesn’t come from the excuse making establishment and to them he seems to have this quaint notion that a promise is a promise.

For too long now our politicians have made grandiose promises and we have learned to ignore them since they are rarely if ever fulfilled.

And we are still getting used to a President who means what he says.

So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week and it comes from The Code of the West as articulated by my friend author and lecturer Jim Owen in his book Cowboy Ethics.

“When you make a promise, keep it”.

Simple and direct and it don’t need no explainin’.

And if our politicians can’t keep their promises they should remember the words of Captain Woodrow F. Call in Lonesome Dove and “be careful what I promise in the future”.

But they should also remember that Woodrow fulfilled his promise to Gus to take him on that long and arduous journey and bury him in Texas before he said that.