American mainstream media, Time, in an opinion article by James D. Zirin, “The Man Who First Fueled Donald Trump’s Paranoid Politics“, has finally pointed out the connection of Trump to red-baiting mob lawyer, Roy Cohn, the evil genius behind Joe McCarthy and consigliere to New York crime families. Publicizing Trump’s origins would have been useful during the primary campaigns and presidential election. Instead, public ignorance about Trump and Cohn enabled the current unfathomable reality where the country installed a crime family in the White House.
A couple excerpts from Zirin: “…I don’t mean to suggest that Trump, is a certifiable lunatic. This would be beyond my expertise. I would only argue that his political approach of demonizing his enemies; fabricating claims out of whole cloth; relying on conspiracy theories; expressing suspicion that others are out to get him, including the intelligence agencies, the FBI, Obama (with unsupported allegations of wiretapping), and the media; pandering to anger and fear in the populace; gross exaggeration, and distortion; xenophobia, racism, and let’s not forget misogyny, resonates with a paranoid style sadly seen all too often in American history.
In modern times, besides Trump, leading exponents of the paranoid model have been Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon. All these men did political battle in a paranoid style. And connecting the dots between these complicated men was a corrupt lawyer named Roy Marcus Cohn, who never held elective office, but was close to all of them.”
And further on, “As McCarthy’s consigliere, Cohn mastered the art of the smear, the lie, and the counterattack. Cohn, a willing handmaiden, sat at McCarthy’s side at the nationally televised Senate hearings. He rocketed to national prominence just as Trump did with The Apprentice. As Cohn later wrote, ‘people are bored; they want entertainment.’ Entertainment would prove to be the vehicle for both men to achieve political power.”
For more on the Cohn connection, see among my other blogs, Donald Trump and Organized Crime and Sidney Blumenthal’s Short History of the Trump Family. Note also that Trump’s oldest key operatives, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Arthur J. Finkelstein, were also associates of Cohn, schooled in the arts of political manipulation.
We need to do more than bemoan the present. The election of Trump exposed serious weaknesses in the American democratic model. Trump was elected with a minority of the votes, pursuant to a media campaign of slander and innuendo, supported by the intervention of a foreign power. He is so contemptuous of our democratic processes that on Monday he phoned Turkish President Erdogan to congratulate him on a referendum vote that gave Erdogan uncontested power for life – in a country that a decade ago was a model for the establishment of democracy in the Middle East.
The short of it is that when we finally rid ourselves of the curse of Trump, serious reforms are necessary – to get money out of politics, to ensure election by majority vote, and to find ways to provide objective information to an educated voting public. We must not settle for less.