Perspective: Second Acts

Mar 6, 2019

In his 1932 essay, “My Lost City,” F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced his classic quote, “There are no second acts in America.” That is pretty stark and hopeless. Fortunately, the line is taken out of context.

Fitzgerald actually wrote, “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.” Written only a few short years after the beginning of the Great Depression, Fitzgerald’s iconic and prescient words uncover American optimism and encourage hope, recovery, hard work, and growth.

Recently, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who was convicted of lying to Congress, appeared for a second time to atone and to offer new testimony clarifying his lies before the House Oversight Committee. While Democrats focused their questions on the actions of Mr. Trump, Republicans stayed on the attack, reiterating that Mr. Cohen is an unrepentant liar and should not be believed, let alone heard.

Of course he is a liar. He was hired to be a “fixer;” lying was part and parcel to his duties for Mr. Trump. But it begs an important question: If one has been shown to be a liar will one always be? Or, do Americans ever really get a second act? How do we resolve our values of kindness and forgiveness while disallowing the possibility of change? Right now, Cohen may not be the best case, as allegations that his legal team approached the President’s lawyers about a pardon have surfaced. It is clear that Mr. Cohen will need to put in more hard work and growth if he ever hopes for a second act.

But that begs the question of Mr. trump’s veracity. After all, he lies incessantly and is continuously forgiven. I guess second acts aren't necessarily about growth and work but the tolerance of others.

I am Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective.