Speck # 4 Roy Cohn’s Revenge

In no way do I mean to praise Donald Trump. His campaign was as sleazy as it gets. Hillary’s insider string pulling in the Democratic machinery is part and parcel of every campaign. Its both understandable and unavoidable. However, Barack Obama proved that it was not invincible in 2008. Bernie Sander’s loss is hardly surprising. He was severely handicapped by announcing that he was a Democrat just before seeking that party’s nomination. The same was true for Donald Trump. Had Trump run as an Independent I suspect he would have done little better than Bernie would have as an Independent. They would likely have gotten Ross Perot-like numbers – close but no cigar.

All the Trumpian pundits who are saying the mainstream media was mean to Trump are full of _ _it. They shined a light on him but he was a nuclear explosion. Media flash lights meant little compared to the candidate’s sizzle. There is a whole lot in his closet for historians to ponder but most of his voters have been too blinded to notice. I’ll only mention one of them here – Trump’s muse, Roy Cohn.

Cohn is a vestige of my youth’s realities when police vice squads raided gay bars and rounded gays up with one aim – to publicize their depravity in newspapers and soil their reputations forever. There is a scene in the marvelous old movie “Advise and Consent” of the gay 602 bar that would have been repellent to audiences of that era. You can catch a brief glimpse of it in this trailer as the attractive JFK-like Senator walks in desperately seeking out an old lover who is blackmailing him about their old affair. When the blackmailer refuses to back off there is only one solution for the Senator. He has to commit suicide to hide his depravity. Modern audiences may find this preposterous but it would have made sense to people in 1960.

Roy Cohn worked in this atmosphere as the right hand of Senator Joseph McCarthy and helped him ferret out information on Commies in the Government at the height of the Red Scare. They destroyed many people at a time of national hysteria. McCarthy was finally upended when he went after the US Military unsuccessfully when it drafted Roy Cohn’s lover. Shortly afterwards the anti-communist crusade quieted to a dull roar sufficient only to mire us in Vietnam but no longer a threat to our Democracy.

Cohn’s homosexualy was common knowledge after this and he became a bitter man. He vehemently denied he was “queer” and became infamous for his take no prisoners legal maneuvering. The New York legal establishment tried for years to disbar him. A year ago Claudia and I watched the old HBO series Angels in America. Its about the Aids crisis that took out tens of thousands of gay lives in he 1980’s. Al Pacino gives an extraordinary performance as Roy Cohn. This scene tell you everything you need to know about what Donald Trump learned under Cohn’s tutelage and why he conducted a scorched Earth campaign for President.

One of the most hopeful things about America today is that under President Obama we have largely swept the homophobic past away so that we will never again create a Roy Cohn. One of the great ironies about Donald Trump’s election is that the homophobia that created Roy Cohn fifty years ago gave Cohn’s acolyte Donald Trump the strategy that elected him President of the United States. How ironic that Trump asked the pro-family, 2016, GOP convention for their help in stamping out homophobia and got applause it. Roy Cohn hated queers!