The Weaknesses of Power

I am going to stick my neck out and write about someone in the political news, but my thoughts have nothing to do with politics.

The person is 52-year-old Michael Cohen, the man who yesterday was sentenced to 36 months in prison for crimes he committed while working for Donald Trump.

I won’t go into detail about his crimes. He admitted to them and he is going to pay for them. I’m writing because his greed and his arrogance led him to act illegally in the first place, and now he says he’s “truly sorry” and promises he will “be better.”

Michael Cohen, right, arriving at federal court, with his children Jake and Samantha Photo Julio Cortez / AP

As I watched Michael Cohen walk into the courthouse with his wife, son and daughter, I momentarily felt sorry for him, but when I returned to my senses, I thought of the despicable things he’s said and done to enrich himself as well as to protect his boss, to whom he was “blindly loyal.”

“Blind loyalty” led him to “darkness,” Cohen told the sentencing judge, and “it will be my life’s work to make it right.” What causes “blind loyalty” and makes someone go from cunning and calculating to conscience-stricken and contrite? And would these same people become contrite if their deceptions, lies and illegal acts were never discovered? Is someone contrite before a judge because they hope to be judged less harshly, or because they really do feel that way deep in their souls?

The judge said that Michael Cohen lost his “moral compass somewhere along the way,” but did Michael Cohen ever have a “moral compass”?

Donny Deutsch, a former ad agency executive, and a friend of Michael Cohen, said on TV that it’s understandable to be swayed by all the trappings of power. It may be, but when power is abused, it can start setting traps for you. All it takes to end the ride is to get caught in one of them.

Look at Harvey Weinstein, Scott Pruitt, Richard Nixon, and Bernie Madoff. Their lies, schemes, and elaborate coverups eventually backfired. Once they were caught, there was no turning back. They didn’t only lose their power; they lost their dignity, and, in the case of Madoff, his freedom and his family. One of his sons committed suicide. 

Michael Cohen reportedly will be in a minimum to medium security prison, starting in March, but he claimed during his sentencing, “The irony is today is the day I get my freedom back. I have been leading a personal and mental incarceration ever since the fateful day that I accepted the offer to work for a famous real estate mogul whose business acumen I greatly admired.”

Yes, life can be ironic.