By Terence Smith

   I channel-surfed last week to see how the cable channels dealt with former President Trump’s much-advertised remarks at Mar-a-Lago the evening after his arraignment in New York. Predictably, Fox provided full, live coverage. CNN broadcast most of it live and then cut away for commentary. MSNBC recorded it and covered it like a news story with subsequent commentary.

   Listening to Trump’s hour-long litany of grievances dating back to 2015, including his familiar attacks on Hillary Clinton, the FBI, the Justice Department and the prosecutors who are investigating him, I found myself wondering if he is really running for a second term in 2024.

   I know he has formally declared his candidacy and has held rallies in Waco and elsewhere and raised money for his campaign, but the man speaking at Mar-a-Lago last week was a man obsessed with his past and not even mentioning his future. 

   Then the thought occurred to me: maybe Trump is not really running for re-election. Maybe he declared his candidacy last November on the assumption that it would give him at least some political cover against the indictments he knew were coming. Maybe he speculated that prosecutors and grand juries would be hesitant to charge a former president who is an active candidate for re-election. Maybe he believed that the Justice Department would hold off rather than indict a presidential candidate in the midst of a race for re-election?

   Sloppy thinking, you say? Maybe, maybe not.

An Unsolicited Book Review…

   “Disloyal, a Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump,” by Michael Cohen is a trashy book, written in prison in a trashy, Brooklynese style, by  a convicted felon.  And yet, especially in its early chapters, it tells the reader a great deal about former President Trump.

   Cohen’s central thesis, reinforced again and again over its 300-plus pages, is that the craven, narcissistic, grifter that he worked for on the 26th floor of the Trump Tower is the exact same person that occupied the Oval Office until Jan. 20, 2021. Trump, he argues, is Trump, then and now. 

   He is the same Trump that maneuvered endlessly in his Trump Tower days to promote himself in the tabloids and on talk radio and TV. Cohen illustrates his theory with all sorts of inside accounts of the shady “deals” Trump promoted over the years. “Disloyal,” is certainly not literature, but it has the ring of truth. Cohen’s book probably will not change your view of Donald J. Trump; more likely it will reinforce it.