Movie Review:  The Sins Of The Mentor

Release date:  September 2019movie

Review, short version:  Thumbs up for the film, thumbs down for repulsive Roy Cohn.

Review, long version:

I once referred to Roy Cohn as “pond scum,” and the person I was speaking to said, “But you’re insulting pond scum.”

She was right.

Who was Roy Cohn?

That story is told in the documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? which I’ll recount, briefly:

cohn mccarthy
The sidekick:  Cohn (right) and McCarthy, 1954.

Roy Cohn (1927-1986) was New York born, became an attorney, and became famous for his roles in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg espionage trial (1951), and later as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s supportive sidekick in the McCarthy hearings (late 1940s to mid-1950s).

He spent the remainder of his life as an attorney, cozying up with politicians, celebrities, mobsters, shysters and sleazeballs until he was disbarred by the State of New York in 1986.  A few weeks later, he died of complications from AIDS.

When I said, “pond scum,” I was trying to come up with an original description of Cohn that wasn’t included in the film, or in the many reviews that appeared when it debuted.

Here are excerpts from some of the film’s reviewers, and comments from people who knew Cohn, about his psyche, personality, and modus operandi:

cohn trump
The mentor:  Cohn and Trump at the opening of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, 1983.

“…certain slippery charm, a relish for verbal combat, and what can only be called a passionate disdain for the truth…blatant amorality…”
The New York Times, September 19, 2019

“…tactics that included smearing the enemy, scapegoating the dispossessed, alternately courting and demonizing the press and brazening out any accusations of wrongdoing or mendacity, no matter how well-founded…wherein truth is malleable, relationships are transactional and ethics are strictly for losers.”
Washington Post, September 24, 2019

“a snake, a scoundrel, a new strain of son of a bitch…savage, abrasive and amoral behavior…truculent, unrepentant…sneering, sinister sheen of invulnerability…a braggart of a tax cheat…incorrigibly unethical…

“…couldn’t have given less of a shit about rules…preening and combative, look-at-me lavish and loud…a quintessential hypocrite…an intimidator and a bluffer…he’ll bend the rules to the limit…he will stop at nothing…

“He was roundly, practically fetishistically unapologetic, remorseless, shameless…totally impervious to being insulted…deflect and distract, never give in, never admit fault, lie and attack, lie and attack, publicity no matter what, win no matter what, all underpinned by a deep, prove-me-wrong belief in the power of chaos and fear.”
Politico, September 9, 2019

barbara walters_01 cropped
The life of the party:  Cohn hobnobbing with Barbara Walters.

“…a real-life supervillain…using the cloak of patriotism to disguise his hypocrisy…he was most expert at burnishing his own ego.  Caught in a lie, he’d quickly deny it in his loudest voice…toxic, insidious amorality…”
Rolling Stone, September 19, 2019

“…a person who was in denial about a great many things, including his own capacity for delusion and the harm that he caused to friends, business partners, and the political institutions of the United States…the gutter tactics, including scapegoating and media manipulation…celebrating himself as a ruthless individual who seemed proud of his reputation for manipulation and viciousness…”
RogerEbert.com, September 20, 2019

Why did I take the time to read all these reviews, and excerpt quotes about repulsive Roy Cohn?

Because Cohn left us a legacy:

Cohn was Trump’s Mentor

From the early 70s into the mid-80s, while Cohn was one of Trump’s attorneys, he was the man whom the much-younger Trump chose to admire and emulate.

Let’s go back and read the review excerpts again, especially the words in bold:

“…certain slippery charm, a relish for verbal combat, and what can only be called a passionate disdain for the truth…blatant amorality…”
The New York Times, September 19, 2019

“…tactics that included smearing the enemy, scapegoating the dispossessed, angry_02 croppedalternately courting and demonizing the press and brazening out any accusations of wrongdoing or mendacity, no matter how well-founded…wherein truth is malleable, relationships are transactional and ethics are strictly for losers.”
Washington Post, September 24, 2019

“a snake, a scoundrel, a new strain of son of a bitch…savage, abrasive and amoral behavior…truculent, unrepentant…sneering, sinister sheen of invulnerability…a braggart of a tax cheat…incorrigibly unethical…

“…couldn’t have given less of a shit about rules…preening and combative, look-at-me lavish and loud…a quintessential hypocrite…an intimidator and a bluffer…he’ll bend the rules to the limit…he will stop at nothing…

“He was roundly, practically fetishistically unapologetic, remorseless, shameless…totally impervious to being insulted…deflect and distract, never give in, never Angry croppedadmit fault, lie and attack, lie and attack, publicity no matter what, win no matter what, all underpinned by a deep, prove-me-wrong belief in the power of chaos and fear.”
Politico, September 9, 2019

“…a real-life supervillain…using the cloak of patriotism to disguise his hypocrisy…he was most expert at burnishing his own ego.  Caught in a lie, he’d quickly deny it in his loudest voice…toxic, insidious amorality…”
Rolling Stone, September 19, 2019

“…a person who was in denial about a great many things, including his own capacity for delusion and the harm that he caused to friends, business partners, and the political institutions of the United States…the gutter tactics, including scapegoating and media manipulation…celebrating himself as a ruthless individual who seemed proud of his reputation for manipulation and viciousness…”
RogerEbert.com, September 20, 2019

It’s easy to connect the dots between Cohn and Trump.

It’s so appallingly easy to do.

“Donald calls me 15 to 20 times a day…Donald is my best friend…”
Roy Cohn quoted in Vanity Fair, June 2017

cohn
The end, 1986:  Sick and alone, disbarred and dying of AIDS, Cohn was abandoned by Trump.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s