American Shithole #49 | Welcome Back, Cohen
By Eric Wilson
“When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”
- Rep. Elijah Cummings, closing statement.
As much as I wanted to pen American Shithole #49 | Long Đồng Đăng (a tribute to Trump’s service in Vietnam); like everyone else in politics this week, I watched with keen interest Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday.
“He is a racist. He is a Conman. He is a cheat.”
- Michael Cohen, on Donald Trump during his opening statement.
“Damn, save that for your closer, Michael!” I blurted at the television.
I’ve written about Cohen before (American Shithole #12 | Michael Cohen: Tain't Misbehavin') and while I appreciate his willingness to appear before congress and the world, I believe these hearings have been only marginally informative (at least this public testimony), and nowhere near incendiary enough to fuel any chance at future transparency.
I want my fucking Mueller report; and so do you.
Unfortunately, there were no bombshells; it was more a series of “aha” moments.
What I found more revealing (than the well-anticipated puzzle pieces Mueller cleared Cohen to discuss) were the near-universal, seemingly hive-minded responses from the republicans. They certainly weren’t interested in entertaining any of the damning evidence against the president.
Nothing about Trump at all interested the GOP during these proceedings.
They seemed very interested in book deals though.
“Yes, yes, yes, the president’s a criminal; tell me about boooooook.”
- Every GOP representative, all day long.
We witnessed a cavalcade of pointless questions from sneering, witless conservatives — questions about book deals mainly; and TV contracts, and movies. One republican after the other, ad nauseam, using their five precious minutes on the world stage to paint Cohen a liar and an opportunist; instead of considering the evidence brought before them, or considering the tragedy of what Cohen had become: a man who’d lost everything in service to the president they themselves foolishly continue to protect.
They weren’t even competent in their smear attempts. Rep. Higgins and Rep. Gosar were particularly embarrassing in their failure.
There is a shortlist of usual suspects vying for the top spot each week in my “Worst Americans” category. Typically billionaires reign supreme, sometimes the Trump base breaks the physical laws of stupid, narrowly squeezing into the lead, and every once in a while it’s the breathtaking cowardice of the GOP that slinks to #1.
Just like everyone else tied to this orange albatross that’s had their careers shredded; their reputations destroyed — Tea Party republicans like Jim fucking Jordan are going to come to realize that their turn in the hot seat is just around the corner.
Jim didn’t have himself a banner day, either.
Jordan (in typical form) pinned himself (in a political wrestling move I will forever refer to as “The Jordan”), as he mistakenly yielded his time before making the motion to delay the proceedings. Clearly, he was tasked by the GOP to derail the hearing by introducing a particular motion, and Elijah Cummings — who crushed it for his country today — wouldn’t yield the time back!
Watching Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan fumble on the opening play (of the only game he’ll likely quarterback, ever again) fills me with such schadenfreudean glee. To have a great man like Elijah Cummings bring dignity back to the Oversight Committee (perhaps to Congress itself) and capitalize on such an embarrassing GOP blunder in front of the entire nation, is icing on the cake.
(Author’s Note: For even more schadenfreude, I have enjoyed Jordan getting mercilessly ridiculed on social media as I edited this piece into the wee hours of Thursday morning. It’s been a treat.)
This was far from my wet dream of a congressional hearing though; for example, I would have loved to have heard some juicy Kompromat reveals for a few noticeably nervous die-hard Trump republicans live on TV — but that didn’t happen. It was certainly an eye-opening day of testimony though; a few times in ways I didn’t expect.
Like many Washington outsiders, I had no idea that Elijah Cummings and staunch conservative Mark Meadows (also a Freedom Caucus leader) were such close friends. In these troubling times I find this both encouraging and frustrating. I find it hard myself; to trust the integrity of anyone that still supports this president. I am also not particularly fond of anyone that has repeatedly tried to kill me, by taking away my healthcare.
So fuck Mark Meadows, whether parading the black Trump supporter out was racist, or not.
Revelations that Trump knew about the stolen emails, that he was in on the Trump Tower meeting, or that he’s committed crimes while in office — juicy as they may be — are rather less than revelatory, and far from explosive in this modern-day Trumpian news cycle deluge that we find ourselves endlessly paddling upstream against; but these proceedings were an important step in restoring some sense of normalcy to a branch of government that has up until now, offered no resistance to this administration.
The process for this kind of hearing is unfortunately a clusterfuck of stupidity; with each representative allotted five minutes to question the witness — which is barely enough time to flesh out a single subject, or explore an idea before time restraints force them to yield the floor. The clusterfucking is compounded yet again by the yielding of individual time between representatives. Throw in the legal inexperience of almost everyone involved, and you’ve got yourself a clusterfuck trifecta.
That being said, Elijah Cummings was successful in keeping this particular shitshow from becoming a three-ring circus. I was particularly moved by his words on more than one occasion.
I didn’t need to set an alarm; I could’ve gotten the highlights from any of the daily news sources, but set an alarm I did — with every intention of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7 a.m. just in case the shit hit the fan. I was a bit drowsy throughout the proceedings, not being a morning person, or a masochist. Also, counting the hours taken up by this president’s gross negligence, incompetence, and misconduct can make even a gruff-but-lovable old geezer like me, ease into a quality late-morning to early-afternoon nap.
So yeah, I missed a few things.
I roused in time to hear Elijah Cummings speak truth to power in his closing statement though; and then again to the reporters waiting outside.
“At least the first two years are behind us,” I thought to myself, as I nodded off again.
The talking heads, busy as bees breaking down the day’s events, faded like white noise into the background static.