Andy Young

There’s no denying Michael Cohen is a shady character. His contrition and pious disavowal of his previous role as Donald Trump’s designated bully-for-hire are no doubt prompted by the looming prison term he faces for crimes committed, allegedly, at his erstwhile benefactor’s behest. Like Aesop’s boy who cried wolf, he’s supplied plenty of reason to doubt or disbelieve anything he says.

None of the other individuals who’ve turned on the current president are exemplars of good behavior, either.  The adult film star and the centerfold model the president paid to keep silent after his trysts with them aren’t any more concerned with morals or decency than he is, nor are any of their camera-seeking attorneys. Like Mr. Trump’s probable original rationale for seeking the White House, their motivation is simply pursuit of wealth and celebrity, and/or increasing the value of their own peculiar “brands.”

Those now distancing themselves from the president after his dismissing them are hardly plucky whistle-blowers, either. Many of these individuals have negotiated six-figure advances for tell-all books they’ve written, or are in the process of writing. Whoever said, “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas,” undoubtedly had persons like those Donald Trump surrounds himself with in mind.

But as repugnant as the people in the president’s inner circle are, how does one classify the hypocritical Republican congressmen and senators competing for the title of the president’s most strident defender? Why provide cover for an arrogant, prevaricating, racist cheat? Is character no longer relevant? Trump’s vileness is no less obvious than that of a naked emperor extolling his sumptuous new clothing.

None of the testimony before Congress last week by Mr. Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer” brought anything terribly new to light. Anyone still believing the current president is even slightly concerned with ethics, honesty, integrity, or common decency is either willfully blind, delusional, or suffering from both those afflictions. And what does the unswerving tribal loyalty to a shameless charlatan say about the portion of America’s electorate still standing by their man despite his demonstrated propensity for lying, not to mention his contention the media (AKA free press) is “the enemy of the people?” Are they too obstinately myopic to recognize what’s in plain sight, or have they been rendered too incapable of rational thought by profit-motivated right-wing propagandists to see it at all?

Consider for a moment this fanciful bit of revisionist history: it’s 2016, a vulnerable incumbent president is running for re-election, and reality TV star Donald Trump decides he wants the job. Running as a Democrat, his populist campaign decries the wealthy fascists and immigrant-phobic hatemongers in the GOP while implying his fellow Democratic aspirants are insufficiently pro-choice. Promising to pack the federal courts with liberal judges, he vanquishes his primary opposition, burying Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and former president Barack Obama under a barrage of playground-variety insults and shrill false assertions.

In the general election Trump trounces President Mitt Romney, deriding him as an affluent weakling woefully out of touch with regular Americans, along the way accusing him (falsely, as it later turns out) of employing illegal aliens at his many sumptuous villas.

Imagine the sequence of events described above had actually come to pass, and that subsequently some of the president’s seedier past dealings had come to light. A disgraced, prison-bound Michael Cohen is testifying before Congress. GOP leaders in the House of Representatives hint they’d like to examine some of Mr. Trump’s activities before he was president and see his heretofore secret tax returns, perhaps as a precursor to impeachment.

Were such events to take place there’s every reason to believe that while Republicans on the House Oversight Committee asked probing questions, their Democratic colleagues would denounce the hearing as a politically motivated witch hunt, while simultaneously constructing ad hominem attacks at Mr. Cohen. Foaming AM radio blowhards and Fox “News” commentators would heap equal amounts of indignant condemnation on the crooked, amoral occupant of the White House and the spineless, enabling Democrats in Congress, particularly the president’s two chief defender/apologists, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The only thing more alarming than that imaginary scenario is its utter plausibility.

The United States is still one of the best places on the planet to live; the ill-advised (and thankfully still imaginary) wall America’s figurative naked emperor insists constitutes a national emergency is intended to keep people from entering, not from leaving.

The country isn’t broken, but its politics most certainly are. When sycophantic Republicans eagerly vie to unconditionally defend a demonstrated amoral narcissist, and ample evidence suggests many Democrats would do the same were the shoe on the other foot, how exactly does the apparently dwindling number of rational Americans go about fixing the situation?

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