To the editor: Columnist Jonah Goldberg writes of the distinction between law and morality as if the two are substitutes, not complements. While the law may not reflect absolute moral truth, it aspires to at least approximate some minimal moral consensus to which we may hold ourselves accountable.
Hence, the payments made to two of Donald Trump’s alleged mistresses during the 2016 campaign get caught up in legalism. Were the payments intended to help save Trump’s marriage, or to save his campaign?
The former is not unlawful; however, the latter is, because it occurs in the context of an election in which every citizen will be profoundly impacted. We have decided that campaign spending should be transparent — it is our business.
While such distinctions may not satisfy Goldberg’s personal morality, it is disingenuous to say there is no consensus. Individual citizens may hold differing opinions as to which of Trump’s questionable actions are morally unacceptable. The law serves as the conduit to identify which ones carry enough of a consensus to actually hold him accountable.
Charles Kohorst, Glendora
To the editor: It is truly an upside-down world when lifelong lefties like myself find themselves cheering Goldberg’s op-ed musings. But once again, my strange bedfellow has hit the nail on the head.
When legalism is allowed (and here I grimace) to “trump” morality, we then must bear witness to the institutionalization of the modus operandi of ethically bankrupt moguls throughout time immemorial: Do whatever you want, and pay the lawyers to sort it all out.
This might be an effective strategy in the darker realms of the private sector, but it is hopefully not one that will be allowed to drive process at the highest levels of American government.
R.C. Price, San Clemente
To the editor: Of course the $130,000 in hush money paid by disgraced and discredited former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just prior to the presidential election influenced the outcome.
Just imagine how right wingers would have voted had candidate Trump been exposed for marital infidelities and possibly much more. Trump would never have won in 2016 without his base of voters who might have reacted poorly to news of an affair with an adult film actress.
Besides, isn’t the president at least on the short list of people expected to provide an ethical and moral compass for our country?
Ted Lux, Playa del Rey