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Politics

The Pivotal Lesson that Steve Bannon Seems to Have Forgotten

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

It is a story oft-repeated and, at first, quite moving. It is the story of Marty Bannon, father of the chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon, and how he lost much of his nest egg when the financial system cratered in 2008. He had worked for AT&T for 50 years, buying the stock when it was safe as gold (only gold paid no dividend) and ...Read more

Being an American is Life Threatening

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Call her Seo-yeon. She’s an infant, cute as could be, and she will be born in the city of Busan, South Korea, in the year 2030. When she emits her first cry, this statistical abstract will have a life expectancy of about 90. Maddison, on the other hand, born the same year but in, say, Kansas City, will die seven years earlier. The cause of ...Read more

‘President for a Day,’ starring Donald Trump

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Donald Trump, clever guy that he is, has come up with a new reality show. It’s called “President for a Day” and the way it works is that, every so often, maybe once a month, Trump acts presidential, gives a speech in which an aide is not standing by with meds, and many in the media and politics hug themselves and roll around on the floor, ...Read more

Trump’s GOP Enablers Show a Papal Pragmatism of Yore

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Despite his jutting jaw and comical bravado, Donald Trump is not another Benito Mussolini. The Italian dictator had six children, one wife and several mistresses, the most loyal of whom, Claretta Petacci, chose to die with him and was hung upside down in a Milan gas station. Most of Trump’s women have fared better.

On the other hand, the ...Read more

Trump’s Vilification of the Media Sounds Familiar

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

For reasons he cannot fathom, Donald Trump has been asked recently about anti-Semitism, not just the rising number of incidents both here and abroad but also -- as he oddly interpreted a question at his latest news conference -- his own attitudes. As for the latter, he is, by his own testimony and that of others, no anti-Semite. If he were, he��...Read more

Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game?

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Sooner or later in any administration, Casey Stengel comes to mind. The great Yankee manager, ending his career with the then-hapless New York Mets, looked down the dugout one dismal day in 1962 and asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” The answer for the Mets was no. It is the same now for the Trump administration.

Michael Flynn ...Read more

A Boy’s Idea of a President

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

My friend has a teenage son. He’s a good kid, well-behaved, impeccably mannered and exasperatingly unpredictable as many teenagers are -- a man one minute, a boy the next. My friend has schooled his son in the verities of life -- be truthful, be reliable, be civil, be patient and, above all, be humble. Now, though, my friend does not know what...Read more

On Immigration, We Have Been This Stupid Before. But Never for Less Reason.

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Early in World War II, my friend’s father put on his Civil Defense helmet and scanned the Coney Island beach for the arrival of German saboteurs. Maybe because he was so alert, Nazis never landed near the roller coaster, but on the West Coast similar no-shows nevertheless produced a panic. Soon enough, Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in ...Read more

Sean Spicer’s Stalinist Apparition

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Sean Spicer is the appropriate face of the new Trump administration. He is the White House press secretary, the spokesman and all of that, and he came into the briefing room on Saturday wearing the blank expression of Laurence Harvey after turning over the queen of diamonds in “The Manchurian Candidate.” You’ve heard of a Molotov cocktail....Read more

Trump: a Gong Show With No Gong

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

WASHINGTON -- Whether he knows it or not, the specter of Lyndon Baines Johnson haunts Donald John Trump. There are some jarring similarities -- two big fleshy men given to vulgarities and gauche behavior, boastful, thin-skinned, politically amoral, vengeful, unforgiving and, most important, considered illegitimate presidents. For Johnson that ...Read more

Can the Constitution Save Us From Trump?

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Donald Trump is a one-man basket of deplorables. He is a braggart and a liar. He is a bully and a demagogue. He is an ignoramus and a deadbeat, a chiseler and either a sincere racist or an insincere one, and his love for himself is matched only by my loathing of him. He is about to be president of the United States. A constitutional coup may be ...Read more

The Year of the Chicken

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

In Chinese culture, this will be the year of the rooster. It will be celebrated in the usual style with firecrackers and dragon dances. In the culture of political Washington, this will instead be the year of the chicken. It will be celebrated by mute men, uniformed in dark suit and red ties, nodding insincerely as the president of the United ...Read more

Syria: The Stain on Obama’s Presidency

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

If Dec 7, 1941, is the day that Franklin D. Roosevelt said “will live in infamy,” then Dec. 20, 2016, has got to be a close second. No Americans died that day as they did at Pearl Harbor but the American Century, as Time magazine founder Henry Luce called it, came to a crashing end. Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Moscow to settle matters in ...Read more

Syria: The Stain on Obama’s Presidency

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

If Dec 7, 1941, is the day that Franklin D. Roosevelt said “will live in infamy,” then Dec. 20, 2016, has got to be a close second. No Americans died that day as they did at Pearl Harbor but the American Century, as Time magazine founder Henry Luce called it, came to a crashing end. Turkey, Syria and Russia met in Moscow to settle matters in...Read more

Senate Must Reject Trump’s Pick for Ambassador to Israel

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

In the machinery of the Holocaust, in the places where Jews and others were murdered by the millions, certain prisoners were compelled or volunteered to help the Nazis in the arduous business of genocide. These people were called Kapos, reviled by Jew and Nazi alike, and few of them survived. The word, though, lives on, its origins obscure but ...Read more

No, Voting Against Trump Doesn’t Mean I Know Nothing About My Fellow Americans

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

This column is for Bernard Gibson, a good man from the state of Indiana. Late last month, National Public Radio went out to Vigo County there to explain why it flipped from voting for Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016. Gibson was one of those interviewed and here is what he said: “These are real people here. These are not New York ...Read more

The Echoes of Weimar Germany Should Not be Ignored

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

Last week on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” a guest mentioned the new unmentionable: Weimar. The guest was Bob Garfield, a liberal media critic, and he was discussing Donald Trump. Hayes was mildly disapproving of the reference. “I tend to stay away from Weimar comparisons for a variety of reasons,” he said. That would make sense ...Read more

Obama’s Latest Shrug of the Shoulders

From the Left / Richard Cohen /

We finally have an Obama Doctrine. It is the 223 words of the White House statement on the death of Fidel Castro. It is blank of moral judgment, empty of indignation, blind to injustice, dismissive of history and indifferent to injury. A dictator has died and Barack Obama sent him off with lazy weasel words: “History will record and ...Read more

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