Updated: Jun 19, 2020
The Republicans in Congress are making themselves incredulous and are putting our Democracy that we take for granted, in danger.
I have just watched live, the congressional hearing of Michael Cohen. For me, the star of the show was undoubtedly the Chairman of the committee, Congressman Elijah Cummings.
He, like the seasoned statesman he is, did not rise to the provocation of the Republican jibes and as The Chairman, did a great job at maintaining his composure and the order of the Committee, always looking to lower the temperature. His closing speech - and no one was quite sure what was coming, but in his own indomitable words and phrasing, he squared off against the lies, the exaggeration and the lack of decency. He called for a return to honest and value-based leadership, founded on integrity - for the sake of future generations and implored on us all to play our part in leaving the world better than we found it.
Cohen showed due contrition but the question remained if he had not been found out, would he still be doing it? I think it would be fair to answer that, with an emphatic - Yes.
Never-the-less, Cohen stepped up to the plate and confessed fully to his short-comings and maintained his composure under barbed questions from the Republican Congressman members. Their questions were few but with many long rambling and sometimes ego-driven statements. From the start, they were on the back foot. They had no defence for Trump, so their recourse was to attack randomly with self-righteous remarks and spurious allegations that continuously called into question - not unreasonably, Cohen's character. This was fine but rather monotonous and on occasion, somewhat juvenile.
It was not even light entertainment but a sad and unedifying spectacle to watch.
Trump, his sons and close cohorts were the obvious casualties. Trump's reputation, as if it were possible, was even further damaged. But the real casualties were the Republicans sitting on the congressional committee.
The whole partisan episode reflected so badly on the Republicans. They reminded me of the ERG Conservatives here in the UK. The fact that these Law Makers could even have the temerity to defend the indefensible was jaw-dropping.
Speaking as a fairly conservative person, I am both dumbfounded and concerned at what is happening to our politics, in both the USA and the UK. We all should be. Opposed to respectful and thoughtful dialogue - we are all brought down to the gutter with this endless partisan extremism.
But there is something that is much more serious and sinister about this and we all need to wake up to it.
In 1974, I first went to South Africa, I was seventeen. I remember vividly witnessing first-hand terrible injustice and mistreatment of human beings. It is actually no different from how the Nazi Party started victimising Jews, Homosexuals, Gypsies - anyone who's face did not fit - any decanters. Much the same happened in the Southern States of America in the "Jim Crowe" era or even in the great depression when there was an exodus to California, as depicted in John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath - and all those Okies.
We humans have a weakness; we seem able to talk ourselves into actions that we know are wrong. I am no phycoligist but I suspect, at the risk of trivialising a serious floor in us, it is along the same lines as "I am trying to lose weight and I should'nt have that doughnut but I will". There is some inherent weakness in us, whereby we do the opposite of what we know is right. I suspect for a number of different reasons, usually derived out of fear on some level. But perhaps it is more than that. Perhaps it is that we lose all perspective, we are too close to the coal face and we get lost in the moment. Much as Colonel Nicholson, played by Sir Alec Guinness in David Leans film, Bridge on the River Kwai.
So - I am left with this thought: If you think it is fine to be prejudiced and racist, to molester women, to lie, to cheat, to bribe and extort, to bully and threaten. In other words to do anything and everything to further your own desires to the cost of other human beings; then you should vote for and protect and defend Mr Trump and his like. And frighteningly, there are lots of leaders in the world who are of "his like".
And that is the point. To make the Oversight and Reform Committee of the House into a partisan defence is the start of a slippery slope.
When the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Jim Jordon and his fellow Republicans lose all objectivity and attack the wrong target and defend the real villain, then we are in trouble.
You do not need to be Einstein's understudy to understand Cohen. The reality is, Cohen is just a victim of his own weakness, greed and ego. The real Villain here is the current President of The United States of America. And failure to see that, and to think that the Republican Party is more important than "Justice, Freedom and the American Way" is a downward spiral.
When we internally start justifying poor, bad, criminal behaviour in the name of preservation - when we fail to act decisivly to bring a halt to such behaviour, that in effect makes us complicit.
This is the start of the erosion of our Democracy. We take Democracy for granted at our peril.
We need to fight for our Democracy and like anything worthwhile in this life, it has a cost, but it is a price worth paying.
Rick - Suffolk - UK - 1st March - 2019