March 3, 2019
I offered descriptions of Donald Trump a few days ago. Here are some others, along with some comments on the state of his Party:
Michael Cohen, in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee, offered this observation about his former boss: “He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.” The term “boss” is mine, but it’s apt, given its organized-crime connotation, for Cohen told the committee “Mr. Trump called me a ‘rat’ for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.” In a more measured comment, he said, “Mr. Trump is an enigma. . . . He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself.”
The last phrase applies as well to the Republican Party. Once it was a respectable political party with a proud history. Now it is indeed the worst version of itself, ignoring the welfare of ordinary people, serving the wealthy and powerful, immune to new ideas, opposed to government regulation of business, and now reduced to toadying to one who should be shunned for driving the Party, already in decline, still further down. Cohen made that clear: “I did the same thing that you're doing now for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years."
An example of Republican decline and servitude to Trump is the Senate’s confirmation of a former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to replace Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. “Republicans said they have been delighted to discover Mr. Wheeler is as enthusiastic about repealing environmental regulations and promoting coal as Mr. Pruitt was, and are looking to him to cement Mr. Trump’s legacy as a warrior against what they see as regulatory overreach.” In the face of increasing evidence of the effects of climate change, “Mr. Wheeler has moved to dramatically weaken two of former President Obama’s signature climate change initiatives, cutting emissions from power plants and from automobiles, while also proposing to make new coal-fired power plants easier to approve.” Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to show the courage and good sense to vote against confirmation.
The reaction to Trump’s emergency powers is showing a slightly different pattern. The House, with the support of 13 of the 195 Republicans, voted to overturn Trump’s declaration, and speculation is that 4 of the 53 Republican Senators will join Democrats, with the same result. That is encouraging and important, but hardly a repudiation of his administration.
As long as we’re collecting descriptions of Trump and his abettors, here’s one by way of metaphor: The January 17, 2019 issue of the New York Review of Books includes a review of Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch. The reviewer, Keith Thomas, sums up a description of service under Henry VIII as follows: “Henry’s court was a fearfully dangerous place where courtiers jostled for the favor of a capricious monarch. . . . MacCulloch portrays the king as ‘terrifyingly unpredictable,’ given to ‘destructive whims’ and ‘habitually erratic’ decision-making, ‘a thorough coward when it came to personal confrontations,’ and ‘almost impossible to serve successfully.’ ” Does that remind us of any other famous leader? Thomas adds that “MacCulloch tactfully declines to draw an analogy with any modern head of state, though some of his American readers may be tempted to do so.”
27.https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/431843-cohen-warns-gop- lawmakers-protecting- trump- i-did-the-same-thing