Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday to the Democratic-run House Oversight Committee will lead most Americans to regard the whole painful spectacle as a sloppily aimed, wide-gauged shotgun blast.
The hot BBs of embarrassment struck Democrats for unconscionably timing their salvo to coincide with President Trump’s negotiating desperately important summit with North Korea’s nuked-up communist leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.
That the Democrats permitted and even encouraged Mr. Cohen to spew the ad hominem insults — he repeatedly called Mr. Trump a “racist” — will be seen by astonished observers at home and abroad as unprecedented, irresponsible and unforgivable.
Even the most virulent critics of President Obama never skated that close to what should be regarded as gutter politics.
The Cohen testimony and Democrats questions made even MAGA fans wonder why Mr. Trump hired this sleazy character as his personal lawyer in the first place.
The hearing skewered one of the broadest targets imaginable — the American people — for enabling, even rewarding a group of elected representatives bent on pursuing the crassest of low-life political objectives over the principles of decency of governance and morality.
Yes, it made for riveting television. A sad commentary on humans and our nature, I guess.
Paradoxically, the Cohen hearing has also seen testimony to the extraordinary freedom of political expression and criticism that can be launched with utter impunity at the most powerful people in our land. It’s with great — if maybe slightly perverse, in this case — pride that such remarkable latitude for dissent should be noted.
What we saw unfolding on Wednesday was the category of ugly politics that brought to mind Churchill’s observation that democracy is the worst form of governance ever practiced, except for all the alternatives.
Is that a flash of a silver lining I see behind this Cohen cloud?
I think so.
Put up all this ugliness against what the Trump administration is achieving and is poised to accomplish inside and beyond our borders and you are almost ineluctably led to conclude that what his voters originally thought about the Trumpster was basically right.
They thought that this charming billionaire king of braggadocio would be the right — conceivably the only —American capable of taking on the likes of Mr. Kim, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders who threaten Americans’ legitimate national interests.
The Donald’s voters thought he would be the only president willing to take on the-too-big-to-fail banks and corporations, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the smug, self-proclaimed economic experts who exalt free-market principles into an inflexible religion.
So for now, it’s appropriate to see this as both a sad and happy day for the Republic that Ben Franklin, Tom Jefferson, James Madison and the rest of the Philadelphia gang of revolutionists gave us despite their considerable personal foibles.
This is worth consideration if, for whatever strange reason, you find this a felicitous moment to try to evaluate the state of politics in the U.S.
A stiff drink and some Bach might be another way to go.
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