Score one for gallows humor.
Here’s President Donald Trump on Michael Cohen hours after his former personal attorney threw him to the dogs in federal court:
“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”
— Twitter, Aug. 22, 2018
Not bad, Mr. President. Not bad at all.
Humor counts when the ground’s rising to meet you. There’s gallantry in it. Take murderer James W. Rodgers. He was asked whether he had a final request while standing before a Utah firing squad. “Bring me a bulletproof vest,” he quipped.
Groucho Marx finished with, “This is no way to live!”, and a gassy Princess Marie-Louise Thérèse of Savoy-Carignan breathed a short-lived sigh of relief before passing (life): “Good,” she said, “a woman who can fart is not dead.” It sounded better in French I’m sure.
Marie Antoinette showed the world that manners matter, too, when the chips are really down. “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur,” she said politely to her executioner after stepping on his toes. Little things like that matter. To history.
Bitterness at the end is death. To your eternal reputation that is. Legendary pickpocket Thomas B. Moran blew whatever public goodwill he had amassed with this clumsy close: “I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me Butterfingers. To me, it’s not funny.” And then there’s former O.S.S. spy and major league catcher Moe Berg. He was said to be the “brainiest player in baseball,” but it was his braveness that he flashed in the end: “How did the Mets do today?,” he asked. (They beat the Cardinals, 7-6.)
I mention these stories not because Trump is dying, but because he’s about to go down. Hard. It may not happen tomorrow, but the days of his presidency are numbered. There’s already enough information to impeach him if Congress wanted to remove him from office, and Robert Mueller probe revelations have barely begun trickling out.
If Trump’s personal history is any guide, he won’t go gently into the night. He’ll scratch and claw for every last breath, bringing those closest down with him. He’ll turn the nation against itself via Twitter.
It doesn’t have to go down that way, Mr. President. History rewards graciousness. Think about it.
William F.B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.