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Opinion | Michael A. Cohen

Does Trump have even one redeeming quality?

President Donald Trump speaks during an event commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in Jamestown, Va., on Tuesday.ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

With Donald Trump there is no bottom.

Mere weeks after attacking four Democratic congresswomen of color and saying they should “go back” to where they came from, he took to Twitter to launch yet another racist diatribe against Baltimore congressman Elijah Cummings and the residents of his congressional district.

It reminds me of the one indisputable and remarkable fact about the president: He doesn’t have a single redeeming quality.

I realize this might sound like hyperbole. Everyone has at least one good thing you can say about them, right?

But try as I might, when it comes to Trump the cupboard is empty.


First and foremost, he’s not a nice person. He’s mean, unpleasant, and regularly insults, demeans, and attacks anyone and anything that doesn’t provide him with constant veneration. He calls political leaders “crazy,” “low IQ,” “dumb as a rock,” “very dumb,” a “loser,” and for some, like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, hurls racist epithets at them. He derides their physical appearance and makes up juvenile nicknames for them.

He lies not some of the time or most of the time, but all the time. According to The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” Trump has lied approximately 11,000 times since he took office.

He’s a well-documented racist and misogynist. More than 20 women have credibly accused him of assaulting them, which includes allegations of rape. He makes bigoted and racist comments about immigrants. He regularly attacks African-American politicians, journalists, and sports figures and uses words like “infested” to describe their communities. He praises and employs white supremacists and refuses to condemn neo-Nazis. He has kind words for sociopathic dictators and authoritarian leaders, primarily because they say nice things about him.

He’s even mean to children.


He has no discernible moral core. He’s devoid of integrity, empathy, and selflessness. He’s vain and self-centered. He never takes responsibility for anything, and blames everyone else for his mistakes. Even the quality that he seems to venerate more than any other — strength — is one that he consistently fails to uphold. He is a bully who attacks the weak and vulnerable and he can’t even be relied on to keep his word or stand firm in a negotiation.

He’s not intelligent or insightful. Everything he seems to know about politics and public life he’s gleaned from watching Fox News. He doesn’t read books, or go to the movies, and spends much of his time watching television. The only hobby he appears to have is golf, and he is legendary for cheating at it. He’s not funny, and he hardly ever laughs.

He has the diet of a 14-year-old boy, and eats his steaks well done and drenches them in ketchup.

He’s incompetent at his job. He appears to have no understanding of how the federal government, of which he is the chief executive, works; how laws are passed; how the economy functions; and he is seemingly unable to differentiate between the three branches of government. There is hardly a political norm or tradition that he hasn’t violated. He has no respect for democracy or the Constitution.

He doesn’t even appear to like dogs, and he’s the first occupant of the White House in more than 120 years who doesn’t have one.


He surrounds himself with bootlickers and enablers. He has no loyalty to those who work for him. Anyone with even a scintilla of ability or integrity has long since stopped working for him. All this might have something to do with the fact that he appears to be a lousy boss.

He’s even bad at the thing that brought him to public attention — being a businessman. He regularly lost money, including as an owner of a casino, which I didn’t think was possible. He short-changed contractors, treated his employees badly, and has declared bankruptcy six times. He had a ghost writer pen a book titled “Art of the Deal” to showcase his alleged ability to negotiate deals — and yet he’s actively bad at negotiating deals, both in business and in politics. Perhaps the only thing he’s been successful at is being a reality star and con man (remember Trump University).

But since the benchmark here is “redeeming quality,” he gets no points for that.

Then there is the fact that he is corrupt, a serial law-breaker, and is actively profiting from his presidency. According to the Mueller report, he has repeatedly and brazenly broken the law — including obstructing justice on 10 separate occasions. Before he was president, he engaged in a scheme to avoid paying his taxes and is possibly guilty of committing tax fraud. We know that he engaged in a conspiracy to subvert campaign finance laws during the 2016 campaign.


To be sure, there are other disreputable public figures in American political life. I was no fan of the 43rd president, George W. Bush. But at least one could say that he appeared to be a good father and his wife seemed to like him (also his AIDS initiative saved millions of lives).

Not the case with Trump. His kids are as morally deficient as he is. The only adult exception appears to be his daughter Tiffany, who, not surprisingly, was largely raised by her mother. His wife Melania doesn’t appear to be a big fan either — which is not surprising since he cheated on her with a porn actress, just as he cheated on his first two wives.

From all appearances, Trump doesn’t have any actual friends.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention his family members gave speeches speaking approvingly of him. They spoke of what a good and caring person he was and yet they could not point to any specific anecdotes highlighting those qualities.

The one positive thing I can remember about Trump is a January 2016 Republican debate in which he criticized Ted Cruz for attacking his “New York values” by pointing to the city’s response to the 9/11 attacks. And then this week, Trump claimed falsely that he was at Ground Zero after 9/11 and compared himself to a first responder. So no points for that.


This is far from a complete list. Trump’s list of iniquities could go on for thousands of more words. But as far as coming up with a positive attribute: That page is and will remain blank. Somehow, in a country of 320 million people, the American electorate found a way to elect one of our singularly worst citizens as president.

Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe.