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Thoughts on Cohen: whatever happened to America?

February 28, 2019

As I was watching Michael Cohen’s testimony yesterday before the US House of Representatives, one thought kept coming to mind. What an evil person Hillary Clinton must be that the American people chose Donald Trump over her. Either that, or how easily deceived they were by the torrent of lies spewed by the winning candidate, or how indifferent they were to the fact that Trump lied blatantly, flagrantly and more prolifically than any presidential candidate in living memory.

They wanted Trump,we were told, because he was authentic, because he was “our kind of guy”, because he spoke “our language”. That, in a way, is the scariest aspect of Trump’s presidency – that he is a man who least epitomises the clarion call of truth, justice and the American Way. Which means, theoretically, that for all the deeply moral, honest and generous Americans I have met over years of visiting the country, there’s another layer of society that shares the values of the conman who resides in the White House.

Just as bad, and quite a shock to this foreigner who clearly misunderstood the purpose of a House hearing, was the sight of one Republican after another failing to use a second of their allotted five minutes of questioning time actually to question Cohen, but instead behaving like coked-up prosecutors from a TV drama using every rhetoric device in the book to discredit the witness and make a name for themselves in the process. All in the service of their own careers and their depraved, narcissistic master.

For all the accounts that have surfaced via books such as Fire and Fury and Fear, both of which I’ve read, we have surely only scratched the surface of the chaos, and venality of Donald Trump’s administration. Even if Muller or the countless other investigators currently looking at Trump’s affairs are unable to land an impeachment-grade blow on the president, one would think that the American electorate already knows enough about him to throw him out of office in 2020. But perhaps not. If millions of people who call themselves Christians continue to support the most un-Christian president in history, perhaps he’ll live to fight another four years.

If my American friends ask me what right I have to comment on their internal politics, I will remind them that for better or for worse, the behaviour, policies and actions of their president matter as much to us unenfranchised bystanders in the rest of the world as they do to them. To see him cosying up with murderous despots who court him because they can see his weakness from a mile off, while behaving with contempt towards countries that have been allies of the United States for more than seventy years, is profoundly worrying.

To watch a man for whom the dollar seems to be the first and last consideration behind every decision he makes is profoundly depressing. His world view is a disgraceful repudiation of the values that have enabled Western democracies, including former adversaries, to live largely in peace since the end of the Second World War.

Michael Cohen, with his hangdog expression of regret and shame, will shuffle off to jail soon enough. What a pity that his former boss, in whose name Cohen threatened, lied and conspired, might not follow him, if not to jail, at least to a place where he can no longer harm his country and those who depend on America to be a rock, a safe place in an unstable world.

From → Politics, USA

  1. peddiebill permalink

    Well said. Unfortunately it is an unfinished drama.

    When Mr Trump first presented his alternative agenda it was to a population whose past experiences of American Presidents was that even an incompetent President would be saved from potential total disaster by experienced advisors, a two tiered house system providing checks and balances, and the knowledge that although politicians can be expected to slant or fudge the truth to suit their own hidden agenda, that ultimately the tried and tested American system would produce more good than evil.

    The biggest problems now relate to how to deal with a situation where a population has allowed itself to be duped by a man apparently intent on pulling down all the hard won values and standards that the nation depends on. The polls now say the international standing of the US has fallen dramatically. The US internal polls show a majority in the US do not believe the President is doing a good job. But spare a thought for those who committed to Trump in 2016 and are now understandably reluctant to eat humble pie.

    The fact checkers deserve to be listened to. I am not sure how many lies Mr Trump needs exposed until even his most sycophantic followers might admit they were wrong in their trust. Surely the issues now raised deserve answers. However the Trump supporters also need to be offered a chance to make a gracious withdrawal.

    • Many thanks for your excellent comment. Yes, you’re absolutely right, though I’m not sure how that gracious withdrawal might be facilitated. The frightening prospect is that Trump’s supporters are so deeply entrenched that their views seem to have come to define them as people. Who after all, would not want to make America great again if they are convinced that the country is not already great (which, by the way, I think it is)? I hate to say this, but Trump has built a cult, and the only way to neutralise a cult is some form of de-programming. That can probably only happen after an event of some magnitude – such as impeachment or a criminal prosecution after he leaves office.

      My fear is that if Trump exits at a time not of his own choosing there will be a violent reaction. Then again, I hear the same foreboding from people who fear that they will be deprived of the Brexit they think they voted for, to which my response is that so long as we in Britain are governed by the rule of law, we will deal with the consequences. I like to think it would be the same in the US. Steve

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