Wallace hears a hoo: When Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee last week, he knew right where he should start.
He started with a portrait of the man for whom he'd served as a "fixer" and goon. And when he described this "Mr. Trump," he started with the current "most preferred claim" of our liberal and anti-Trump tribes:
COHEN (2/27/19): 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.First of all, Mr. Trump was said to be "a racist." This was the first thing Cohen said. He'd failed to listen to his own conscience when he served as a goon for this man.
I am ashamed, because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat.
For ourselves, we regret the fact that Cohen will be going to prison. We don't think we've ever been glad to hear that someone is going to prison, though we'll acknowledge that punishment regimes are still a necessary part of our social arrangements.
We're sorry that Cohen did the various things he did, including the $4 million in personal tax evasion to which he pled guilty last August. (He didn't do that for Mr. Trump; he did that for himself.)
As far as we know, none of our consciences guide us in a perfect manner. We're sorry that Cohen's "own conscience" failed him in the fairly substantial ways it did.
That said, Cohen seemed to know what to say when he testified last week. He said that Donald J. Trump is a racist. If you want to curry favor with our largely malfunctioning liberal team, it is, at present, the perfect thing to say.
Is Donald J. Trump a racist? As we've probably said in the past, we feel the term has been used in such promiscuous ways that it's largely ceased to have a definable meaning.
We'd like to see a moratorium in which we liberals would have to say what we mean without use of that all-purpose bomb. In the meantime, though, everybody—and we do mean everyone, even Cohen—knows it's the term to which they should quickly turn is aligning themselves with our team.
Consider what happened last Friday afternoon on the popular MSNBC show, Deadline: White House. The program is hosted by Nicolle Wallace. She opened Friday's program by delivering a somewhat mannered R-bomb of her own.
As you may know, Wallace made her bones helping George W. Bush get re-elected by staging all those anti-gay marriage propositions on all those state ballots in 2004. Today, though, she knows how to play the game Over Here, within our own liberal/anti-Trump tribe, as you can possibly see by choosing to click here.
Wallace opened Friday's program by spotting another racist. Michelle Goldberg quickly jumped in to confirm Wallace's view—Goldberg, who found her way to her current spot at the New York Times by never, ever saying a word about what the newspaper did, for twenty-five years, to both Clintons and to Candidate Gore, leading to Candidate Hillary Clinton's eventual defeat.
Goldberg wasn't even willing to speak when the Times ran that astounding, 4400-word front-page report about the way Candidate Clinton had sold her soul in the matter of Uranium One. Instead, she joined TV's Chris Hayes is declaring the front-page gong-show a "bombshell"—and today, she stars at the Times.
We don't know what Goldberg was thinking when she failed to condemn that obvious front-page gong-show. As a general matter, though, this is the way the game has been played within the "career journalistic community" for a great number of years.
Simply put, this is the way Homo sapiens tends to play, as Professor Harari tends to suggest in his best-selling book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
According to Harari, our species came to rule the planet through our ability to create and promulgate sweeping group "fictions." These "fictions"—"myths," if you will—are standard, frequently fact-free beliefs to which we humans will swear allegiance, allowing us to cooperate in large groups.
According to Harari, chance mutations gave our ancestors the ability to form these "fictions." According to Harari, it's an ability which other human species didn't have.
We have no idea how to evaluate these claims, but remember—Harari's book has been endorsed by Bill Gates and Barack Obama! Meanwhile, there's no doubt that Harari is describing the way we modern humans tend to function all over the globe. Here's one passage, in his own words:
HARARI (page 27): How did Homo sapiens manage to cross this critical threshold [of cooperation in large groups], eventually founding cities comprising tens of thousands of inhabitants and empires ruling hundreds of millions? The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.Say what? Our modern institutions are founded on belief in ghosts and spirits? Is Harari allowed to say that?
Any large-scale human cooperation—whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe—is rooted in common myths that exist only in peoples' collective imagination. Churches are rooted in common religious myths. Two Catholics who have never met can nevertheless go together on crusade or pool funds to build a hospital because they both believe that God was incarnated in human flesh and allowed Himself to be crucified to redeem our sins. States are rooted in common national myths. Two Serbs who have never met might risk their lives to save one another because both believe in the existence of the Serbian nation, the Serbian homeland and the Serbian flag...
Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings.
People easily understand that ‘primitives’ cement their social order by believing in ghosts and spirits, and gathering each full moon to dance together around the campfire. What we fail to appreciate is that our modern institutions function on exactly the same basis.
Apparently yes, he is.
Did our ancestors drive other human species into extinction because our species, and ours alone, had developed the ability to invent and promulgate this type of "fictions?" We have no idea.
Today, though, human groups do march forward under various signs and group beliefs—and those compelling group beliefs are often formed on a very shaky factual basis.
According to Harari, it was this ability, mixed with a strong dose of "intolerance," which led to the end of the Neanderthals and the Denisovans as our own ancestors, Homo sapiens, marched triumphantly on.
We don't know if that really happened, but we do know that our own current tribe is marching beneath a stirring belief about The Others. Everyone knows to recite this belief, even folk like Cohen and Wallace, who we'd all be calling "bigots" if they hadn't agreed to sign on.
Cohen knew what he should say first, aided perhaps by Lanny Davis. Wallace knows that she must ostentatiously showcase her alleged hatred of racists of every possible stripe.
In fact, every pundit Over Here knows that he or she must do that today, just as our pundits knew, at one time, that they must pretend that Candidate Gore was the world's biggest liar, and that he had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man."
At one time, they all said that. Now, they all are eager to say they hate the racists.
Not long ago, the creeps you see on cable TV marched repetitively on beneath those earlier "fictions." Today, everyone knows they should start by dropping an R-bomb or twelve.
This is the way our modern tribe rolls. Is it possible, in any way, that this and other types of group conduct could possibly help Mr. Trump win re-election next year?
Tomorrow: The inevitable misapplications (Lemon around the bend)