Our tribe's pursuit of Trump: Appearing before the House Oversight committee, Michael Cohen, the former Trump "fixer" and goon, knew what he should say.
Before he was finished, he would say several things which possibly didn't quite make perfect sense. But as he started his prepared remarks, he quickly voiced the key part of our liberal tribe's current group "fiction:"
COHEN (2/27/19): Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. I have asked this committee to ensure that my family be protected from presidential threats. And that the committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. I thank you for your help and for your understanding.Donald Trump is a racist, Cohen said. When he ran for the presidency, Trump had "launch[ed] a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance."
I am here under oath to correct the record. To answer the committee's questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump. I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement, documents that are irrefutable and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.
Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for the presidency to launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance and actually win.
I regret the day I said yes to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way. I am ashamed of my own failings and publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.
I am ashamed of my weakness and my misplaced loyalty, of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him. I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.
I am ashamed, because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop on Democratic National Committee emails. I will explain each in a few moments.
Donald J. Trump is a racist. This was the first thing Cohen said when he began to tell the committee "what Mr. Trump is."
Forgive us if we aren't thoroughly sure how to react to Cohen's remark. Was Cohen a secret anti-racist during the years when he worked as Donald Trump's goon?
Was Cohen a secret anti-racist when he spoke with The Daily Beast's Tim Mak in July 2015? At the time, Mak was investigating an earlier legal claim by Trump's ex-wife, Ivana Trump, that she had been "raped" by Trump during their marriage.
Mak spoke with Cohen by phone. Ignoring his high-minded personal values, Cohen offered these thoughtful remarks:
COHEN (7/27/15): Mark my words for it, I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don't have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. Do not even think about going where I know you're planning on going. And that's my warning for the day.To hear the tape of the phone call, click here. For Mak's real-time report, click this.
So I'm warning you, tread very f***ing lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting. Do you understand me? Don't think you can hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen. I'm more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherf***** you're going to need it.
That transcript helps explain why we've added the term "goon" to the conventional term "fixer" in our description of Cohen. That said, was Cohen a secret anti-racist when he was making phone calls like that in service to Donald J. Trump? Were his personal values superior to the attitudes conveyed by his recorded remarks?
We ask this for a reason. Cohen seemed to know exactly where to start in his remarks last week. When he described Donald J. Trump, he started with the claim our tribe loves best at this time—the claim that The Others are racists.
Was that presentation by Cohen sincere, or was he just striking a pose? In part, we ask because Cohen said other things which seemed like pure bullroar this day.
Forget about Cohen's portrait of Trump! Instead, consider Cohen's self-portrait:
COHEN (2/27/19): Over the past two years, I have been smeared as a "rat" by the president of the United States. The truth is much different. And let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.Has Cohen always tried to live a life of generosity and compassion? We'll say that may not be wholly accurate.
My name is Michael Dean Cohen. And I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son.
When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, I would cherish her, and I would protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, "You, my wife, and you, my children, are the air that I breathe." So to my Laura, and to my Sami, and to my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect you.
I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity and compassion. It's qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm's way to do what they knew was right. And that is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. And Mom and Dad, I am sorry I let you down.
Beyond that, we'll express some doubt about Cohen's claim that he was swept away from his basic values by loyalty to Mr. Trump. Last August, Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, for concealing more than $4 million in personal income. We'll guess that he gilded the lily a bit in last Thursday's stirring self-portrait.
Michael Cohen has been a rather shady guy. That said, he knew what he should probably say, right off the bat, when he profiled Trump.
For ourselves, we regard Donald J. Trump as a disordered, dangerous man. We regret the fact that he's disordered—that he may be mentally ill—but that doesn't mean that he isn't a danger. This raises the stakes concerning the way Trump is being pursued.
Over Here, within our liberal tents, our tribe's pursuit of Donald J. Trump has taken at least two basic forms:
We're strongly inclined to portray Trump, and his tens of millions of voters, as slobbering racists all. We're also deeply invested in the headlong legal pursuit of Trump—in the idea that he can be indicted for crimes, or impeached by the House.
Michael Cohen seemed to know one basic way to our hearts. That said, is our current pursuit of Trump a good, strong, solidly "rational" program? Or is it possible that we're chasing a dangerous man in a way which could make him stronger?
In his best-selling book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Professor Harari paints a somewhat gloomy picture of our self-impressed, war-like species. We run on "gossip" and "fiction," he seems to say, mixed with a healthy dose of "intolerance."
By way of contrast, Aristotle is widely said to have said that we're "the rational animal." Just how rational is our tribe's current approach to Trump?
Tomorrow: Everyone knows what to say