A Sham, A Scam and a Witchhunt

Lining up behind a candidate in a show of party loyalty is one thing, but slavish devotion in the face of so much slime is quite another. I make this observation as someone who has actually worked in two political campaigns in my life, one Democratic and one Republican.

A Sham, A Scam and a Witchhunt
"And what's with these lousy courtroom artists?"

Years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing famous Houston attorney Richard "Racehorse" Haynes. Haynes inherited the mantle of the legendary Houston barrister, Percy Foreman, as the guy whose phone number you want on speed dial if you just up and shoot someone on, oh, 5th Avenue, for instance. He joined that great bar association in the sky back in 2017 after getting pretty blatant murderers (OK, alleged) like Dr. John Hill, subject of the book and film "Blood and Money" and Dallas millionaire T. Cullen Davis who tried to kill his wife, but did manage to off her boyfriend and daughter, the not-guilty verdicts they so richly didn't deserve.

He's up there killing my children…he's killing everyone:” The Many Trials  of Thomas Cullen Davis | by Ashli Nicole | Medium
Haynes and Davis

Parenthetically, I also interviewed Davis when he was running around Texas offering a million smackers to anyone who could prove evolution was true. I thought at the time that, A-he had the deadest eyes I'd ever seen, and B-why didn't he just take his acquittal and slink away from public view, since, as I told him, everyone watching this interview thinks you did it and wasn't buying this "born again" persona.

At any rate, Haynes gave the usual lawyerly response to my question of how you defend a guy you know is guilty. But in the process, he offered an outline of the steps in defending the indefensible. If your dog bites someone, you say first, "My dog didn't bite him. He is mistaken." Then, "My dog doesn't bite." Then as a last resort, "I don't have a dog."

Now, given the monsters he got off, I won't speculate on the eventual destination for Racehorse, but I did think of our conversation as I watched the latest Broadway hit being performed daily in a Manhattan courthouse.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, can I just offer a Tony nomination to the wardrobe director...

Former US Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks outside the Manhattan Criminal Court as former President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs in New York City on May 14, 2024.(AFP)
"Complete coincidence, I swear!"

Yes, some of the lickspittles from the only Congress we have, skipped their actual jobs to sit in the flatulent fog and support the mango messiah as he snoozes, uh, meditates during testimony attempting to prove he doesn't have a dog. And to make sure he gets the message, they coordinated their outfits like the men of Texaco...

Meanwhile, outside came a display that even playwright Harvey Fierstein might consider over the top. A reputed Trump supporter released 99 Schwanzstucker-Luft-balloons, to use the original pseudo-German, shaped like stubby penises with pictures of Justices Juan Merchan and Arthur Engoron and prosecutors Jack Smith and Alvin Bragg taped to them.

Pro-Trump artist releases 100 penis-shaped balloons with judge's face on

No one is quite sure the point, whether he is giving his opinion on the people pictured, or referencing Stormy Daniels fabled descriptions, we may never know.

Now, in the actual proceedings, the prosecution and defense are going round and round about whether the former Commander and Chief knew that his "fixer" Michael Cohen was paying $130,000 to a porn star to buy her silence. What I find remarkable is that during her lawsuit for defamation a couple of years ago, the C and C admitted it.

“Trump admitted that Defendant reimbursed [Michael Cohen] for [Michael Cohen’s] $130,000 payment to [Daniels].” 

As Mitt Romney observed, "You don't pay someone $130,000 not to have sex with you."

Therefore, the only thing left to be decided is, did he falsify tax records to hide it? While many have made the observation that this is a pretty petty crime, the surrounding sleaziness is beneath any business person, much less a former President.

And I say this as one who observed on the air in the 90s that President Clinton ought to step down and turn things over to his VP as his actions were a betrayal of the office, albeit, a personal one.

OK, it's Darrell Hammond, but you get the point.

And, OK, even though I am appalled at the bootlicking on display in the House of Representatives and the possibility of four more years of these incessant tantrums and claims that whatever is happening is the worst thing in the history of this country, or, indeed, the world, I have to admit that Michael Cohen is a human weather vane with a wet finger in the wind. While I'm glad Joe Valachi and Sammy the Bull Gravano turned state's witnesses against the mob, that's not company Cohen should be proud of.

Turning on a corrupt boss because your conscience said "no more" is one thing. Let's be honest though, these guys were looking at long stretches in the big house, or worse. Copping a plea made sense to avoid Tiny and Skeeter's welcome to Cell Block D.

Whatever the motivation, I am glad the information is out there. And I admit, in the overall scheme of all things Trump, it is pretty small potatoes, but it is a small peek at a life badly lived. Even the willingness to toss Melania aside, like the others, ought to be cautionary. The fact that it isn't, speaks volumes about his cult-like following and the invertebrate nature of his congressional coterie. The supine humiliation so many are willing to endure at the hands of this man-baby, is illuminating.

Lining up behind a candidate in a show of party loyalty is one thing, but slavish devotion in the face of so much slime, and with legitimate alternatives available, is quite another. I make this observation as someone who has actually worked in two political campaigns in my life, one Democratic and one Republican.

I know, I know. I'm restating for the tiresomely umpteenth time, the obvious. No, I don't like him or his ignorance or his feckless tenure in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue. And this despite his observation that he did more for black Americans than Abraham Lincoln. Yes, he claimed that yesterday.

I don't like his being a tireless and pusillanimous Putin toady. I don't like the childish insults and 3rd-grade, playground nicknames for anyone who dares to disagree. I don't think that foreign policy in these dicey times should be a hipshot by a near-sighted gunslinger. He is an incurious and essentially uninformed man and attempts by others to bring him up to speed during his term were described by those others as fruitless.

I also don't like that Joe Biden is 80. And, again, even though I'm not that far away either, I have to observe that he obviously does display the gate and cadence of an old man. I mentioned Mitt Romney earlier, and he is 77. Hell, Mick Jagger, John Major and Mario Andretti are all in their 80's. The Indy 500 is next week, and I'd still put Mario in a car.

Obviously, age hits all of us differently. The presidency isn't a boot camp obstacle course or an oratory contest, but we are all human and these things cause us to think. Do I wish both parties had chosen other contenders, yes indeed. But voters tend to reward age and experience, and therefore, Washington is run by old people.

I have been watching a fascinating series on Netflix called "Turning Point: The Cold War and the Bomb." Last night I watched an episode on the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw a President in his mid-40's and a Russian Premier in his mid-60's steer the world away from the brink. It took finesse, an appreciation of both men's political situations, and some pride-swallowing to keep the sword of Damocles sheathed. Of course, politics is politics. Senator Barry Goldwater said he couldn't help wondering if Kennedy had played politics for the midterms. So, We probably shouldn't be surprised.

Berlin 1961: Kennedy-Khrushchev Nuclear Poker

But given what is happening today with the latest occupant of the Kremlin, you have to wonder how that sort of thing would play out now. And, even if the results were the same, we and the press are so polarized that no one could be happy with the outcome. But the stakes in Ukraine are similar, and let's not kid ourselves, the discord over that conflict is purely political and nothing else.

"If he's for it, I'm a'gin it" is not a foreign policy. Replace Kennedy and Khrushchev with Trump and Putin. As an American, I would pray that he would do the right thing. As a realist, though, I can't unsee what has clearly taken place between those two men. After all, Trump Tower Moscow is still on hold.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you haven't read the latest by my fellow Outlaw Jim Moore on perhaps the most venal governor in this state's storied history, I can't recommend it enough. It is what is sending so many folks, eventually me included, out of the state. Well, that and the heat.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.