It looks like for some fairly prominent people there’s a rather intense case of The Mondays going around. Specifically, there’s the actor Kevin Spacey, who confessed to and apologized for an allegation that he had sexually molested another actor – among other incidences of misbehavior – named Anthony Rapp, when the latter was 14 years old. And there is the former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was charged with 12 counts of violating federal law, including some rather serious ones – money laundering, for one, and the cringeworthy conspiracy against the United States.
Manafort’s charges stem from some time ago, when he was working as a lobbyist for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. He didn’t register with the State Department, as he would be required to do in such circumstances, and he and his business partner Rick Gates parked the money made from those lobbying efforts in offshore accounts, which occasioned the feds charging Manafort with money laundering and tax evasion.
Nothing in the indictment indicates Manafort is in trouble for anything related to his involvement in the Trump campaign, and in fact Trump isn’t mentioned in the indictment. As the president said in a strangely triumphant-sounding pair of tweets on Manafort’s charges, there was no collusion alleged between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
This is, of course, a very hollow victory for Trump. While he’s vindicated in that the Trump-and-the-Russians narrative hasn’t borne out thus far despite the frantic efforts of former FBI director Robert Mueller and his band of special prosecutors working the case, and if all Mueller has come up with after all this time is to pinch Manafort on old charges unrelated to his time on the campaign then the calls for Mueller’s exit – echoed last week by the Wall Street Journal, no less – will only increase.
But when Manafort was hired last year to replace Corey Lewandowski it was a bad look; Manafort looked exactly like the sleazy swamp creature Trump’s campaign was supposed to exist to pry away from the reins of political power in Washington. He was brought on board, supposedly, because he knew the Republican Party’s process at its convention and therefore could prevent an establishment figure or a crafty primary opponent like Ted Cruz from pulling a fast one and swiping the nomination. Manafort did that, but soon afterward he was tossed aside in favor of Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, who probably should have been running things all along.
Manafort was a bad hire. He had a great deal of baggage to him, very little upside, hiring him gave some credibility to the Trump-and-the-Russians narrative that so far doesn’t seem to deserve it and now his indictment is a bad look. Trump won’t admit it, but he knows he could have gotten out of someone else what he got out of Manafort with a lot less trouble in the bargain.
Let’s hope that mistake isn’t repeated.
Manafort’s legal problems today share headlines with the career implosion of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors in Spacey, who has apparently been notorious as a bisexual and a frequent sexual aggressor among those with whom he’s shared movie sets. Spacey admitted having made a pass at Rapp in a statement on Twitter…
Doubling the confession with a pronouncement that he’s going to live as a gay man from now on has people unloading on Spacey on social media in a major way…particularly among the gay crowd. They’re not very pleased to have Spacey coming out as a gay being associated with his admitting to pederasty.
The rest of his detractors mostly seem irritated at the Harvey Weinstein-esque dodge; when cornered and confronted with past behavior, he brings up something he perhaps thinks will shield him from attacks thanks to political correctness. With Weinstein, it was a declaration of war against Trump and the NRA, a sop to the leftists who he hoped would spare him their worst as a political ally, and with Spacey it’s that if you attack him for inappropriate behavior with a 14-year old actor you must be a homophobe.
Nobody’s buying those excuses anymore. Not from Hollywood. It’s become a consensus that Hollywood is morally bankrupt, depraved and without merit to balance with the damage done to our culture. And with the backlash already underway by a public who’s had enough, it’s not unreasonable to think Spacey is finished as a star in show business regardless of his talent.