Fascinating letters to the Times: Yesterday morning, the New York Times published three letters concerning the claim that Donald J. Trump "defrauded democracy" when Michael Cohen paid Stephanie Clifford to refrain from "telling her truth."
To read those letters, click here.
Clifford says that she and Trump had sex on one occasion, in 2006; Trump says they didn't. After trying to score a big sack of cash for years, Clifford finally accepted $130,000 from Michael Cohen to keep her truth to herself.
Did Barrister Cohen "defraud democracy" when he arranged this payment? Did Trump commit the same offence? The first letter, from Beverly Hills, chose to keep it "plain and simple" and said that they certainly did:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (12/11/18): Plain and simple, Donald Trump violated campaign finance laws meant to ensure full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures to hide from public view two extramarital affairs. If this information had become public during the final phases of the 2016 campaign, it is likely that Mr. Trump would have lost the election. And that’s how he defrauded the American public.If you have sex with someone once, have you had "an affair" with that person? We'd be inclined to view that as a special case of "the power of pluralization." Given the fact that a stampede's on, your results may differ.
This is not a victimless crime. American democracy, American spirit, the fabric of our country and the American people are the victims, as are the poor, immigrants, the environment and longstanding relationships with historical allies. As Mr. Trump might tweet, “Shame.”
Whatever! The writer assumes the truth of Clifford's claim; assumes the accuracy of claims by Michael Cohen; and, perhaps most significantly, uncritically accepts the legal judgments of Southern District prosecutors.
On this familiar basis, he declares that the American people are victims of a crime. As we tried to select the president of the United States, we were kept from knowing that Donald J. Trump may have had sex, on one occasion, with Clifford some ten years before!
Forget the legalities here. That strikes us as one of the most insane political and cultural judgments we've encountered in twenty-one years at this mind-numbing post. That said, it's now the defining political/cultural judgment of the liberal and mainstream worlds.
The second writer, from the calmer climate of Toronto, said we should maybe hold on:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (12/11/18): If the Democrats push for impeachment in the House and if the House does impeach, with the Republicans controlling the Senate, that will be as pointlessly distracting and destructive as the Republican-controlled House’s impeachment of President Bill Clinton was. Nothing will be gained. The country will suffer.This Canadian is withholding judgment, at this time, about Trump's possible crimes.
The House, and hence the Democratic Party, will be shooting itself in the foot. President Trump’s crimes, if they are proved, will speak for themselves. Whether they have an effect on his ability to be re-elected will be determined by the electorate, which is where it should be determined.
He doesn't specifically mention the "crime" in which we voters were kept from learning who may have had sex with whom on one ten-year-old occasion. He further suggests that the system is meant to run on elections, not on impeachment, except where necessity calls.
The third letter came from Manhattan Beach, CA. In our view, this writer makes a sound overall point:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (12/11/18): In your reporting on the latest from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, you say the prosecutors wrote that Michael Cohen, the president’s onetime lawyer, “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”According to the prosecutors, Cohen “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”
If our election laws criminalize that, then we have criminalized politics.
All politicians push good news and hide the bad. Have we made our political process any better from this labyrinth of laws? No. And calling it a fraud on voters is more evidence of lawyers going wild.
The writer says all politicians hide unflattering facts. We think he has a solid point. Consider:
According to a wealth of whispers, the recently canonized George H. W. Bush had an affair along the way with a particular aide who we won't name in this place. If that suspicion was correct, did Candidate Bush "deceive the public" in 1988 and 1992 by failing to inform them about this exciting fact?
According to Carl Bernstein's 2007 book, A Woman in Charge, Bill Clinton had a substantial, heartfelt love affair with an Arkansas woman who Bernstein names during his years as governor. If that's true, did Candidate Clinton "deceive the public" in 1992 and 1996 by failing to share this exciting news?
Is the public being "deceived" when it isn't told about such matters? Does this make us "victims?" This notion strikes us as insane, as the sort of judgment which tends to merge from our unbalanced species' "cultural revolutions."
That said, we're currently watching a stampede unfold. In the course of our tribal stampedes, we tend to make the darnedest judgments.
Tribes devise the darnedest claims! We're strongly inclined to function this way, and we always have been.