Yesterday was a long day for politics, and the eight or so hours of testimony from Michael Cohen means there’s a lot left to sort through still. I’ll leave that to smarter and more patient minds because a sitting member of the House of Representatives tried to unironically “I have a black friend” Trump, and then we had to spend too many minutes making a woman of color clarify that she wasn’t calling a racist a racist, she was just saying he was doing racist nonsense. I have only so many punched computer screens IT will replace before I have to go talk to HR, so I’m not going to get into any of that too deep.
What I will say is that in the next few days, we might see people popping in with their #hottakes on poor Michael Cohen. I say: f*ck all that.
Michael Cohen is going to jail for three-ish years. On five different felony charges that could have theoretically cost him seventy. I’m not saying he should be grateful for that, but I would like to point out that people of color rarely get that kind of consideration. I’d also like to point out one particular answer during a line of questioning. At one point, while discussing his role as deputy finance chairman for the RNC, Cohen joked that before that he’d been a Democrat, but party leadership made him switch his registration. That’s what he joked about. “My beliefs and principles led me to be a member of one party, but my bottom line required I give up my morals in order to make that bank. So I did it.”
And, let’s not forget that for a as much as Cohen might have been caught up in the excitement of the Trump campaign (and the belief that none of the damage that campaign inflicted on the country mattered because they weren’t actually going to win so it was OK to bilk this thing for all it’s worth), he was a pretty reliable soldier. I’d somehow made it through the entire Cohen prosecution before realizing a couple of months ago, HOLY CRAP, HE’S THE “SAYS WHO” GUY.
Michael Cohen entered into this campaign knowing full well who Donald Trump is, and didn’t think that Trump’s moral, intellectual, or ethical shortcomings were a good enough reason to prevent him from encouraging Trump to run. Cohen admits that he knew he was doing illegal or immoral things on behalf of Trump and his campaign, and opted to do them anyway. A major part of Cohen’s testimony was his acknowledgment of these facts. Good on him. When you do wrong, especially when you knowingly do wrong, it’s important to understand why you did wrong, try to make amends, and make attempts to do better in the future. I’m not saying we need to continue to punish Cohen more than his jail sentence, or that we shouldn’t have compassion.
But we’re sure as hell not going to pretend he did nothing wrong. His repentance doesn’t absolve him of his crimes, and his willingness to speak out against Trump does not make him a hero for the left. He’s not a hero. He’s an asshole who screwed up enough that now he has to face being an asshole. The next time someone starts in about how we shouldn’t be so hard on Cohen because Cohen feels super bad now, remember: Cohen was the one who told Trump he should run back in 2011. He’ll stop being an asshole when he’s made that right.
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