Yesterday we learned that, despite months of rumors, Gary Cohn will almost definitely not be getting the nod from President Trump to take over The Federal Reserve from Janet Yellen.
One year ago, that sentence would have seemed like absurd satire. A word jumble of familiar names and places that -put together in that context - was utterly nonsensical. And when you throw in the even less believable context that Cohn has been a close senior advisor to Trump for eight months, the whole thing makes you feel borderline hallucinatory. When you then factor in that the Cohn/Trump dynamic soured after the former criticized the latter for passively cozying up to white nationalist hate groups, well, that trip takes a dark, dark turn.
Yet, here were are Gary. And don't you dare say that we didn't warn you.
You obviously can't stay in The West Wing, and that truth is now so glaringly self-evident that we suddenly find ourselves agreeing with Steve Bannon. The sooner you leave the better, Gary, and don't listen to anyone crowing the bullshit line that you can't leave now because you missed your moment to grab the moral high ground. There is no moral high ground here. And before you even start mumbling about "Passing tax reform," we're going to cover that mouth of yours and say say "Shut up," because we all now know that this President will give Congressional Democrats whatever they want just to look like he's doing something. Do you really want to own the 60% effective corporate tax rate? Let Mnuchin be the weird face of that.
So, what now? Your government career was over before it really started and you're not even 60 yet. You've got a lot of time left to do any number of things using your experience, connections and wealth. But where will you do it?
Fascinatingly enough, Goldman Sachs is the last place you would ever land, even if you wanted to.
Putting aside the corrosively toxic optic of Gary Cohn lumbering back into the lobby of 200 West Street dragging a metric shit-ton of MAGA baggage behind him, the majority of people in that building don't want you there anymore. Goldman is a modern, relatively diverse company that has is getting woke-er, organically younger and even more purposefully diverse. What you've been party to in a mindblowingly short period of time makes it impossible for you to ever command the respect of junior Goldman employees ever again. Your old job is already being shared by Harvey Schwartz and some EDM DJ, not to mention that the new CFO is a gay man with a Mexican grandmother who is maybe not terribly thrilled with some of the stuff your current boss and his house elf Attorney General have been up to as of late. And your former BFF Lloyd Blankfein now spends s lot of his time trolling you on Twitter.
Basically, in less than a year you have gone from being #2 at the world's most powerful financial institution to a reputational liability for the world's least-trusted financial institution, and it's the same institution.
We honestly don't know where you go from here, Gary (Corzine's got that new hedge fund), but we do know that we wanted more for you. Not The Fed (that would have been terrifying) but definitely something better than quitting the most dangerously incompetent White House in modern history after not getting a job you were never really qualified to have.
You spent almost 30 years fighting and clawing your way to the top of Goldman Sachs, beating out guys smarter and more privileged at every turn. You created a personal fortune and became a titan of Wall Street. Sure, volunteering yourself as an advisor to Donald Trump was the career buttfumble of a lifetime, but you can bounce back, Gary.
Take a year off, Gary Cohn, and spend some time getting to know Gary Cohn. Go for long walks in Central Park and think. Spend time working with children and funding charities. Do a VC thing, all the kids think that's cool, and you might even figure out what "Fintech" actually means. Or just hang a full length mirror on your bedroom door and give yourself a grundle-to-face daily affirmation.
But go, Gary. For the sake of all that is good and holy, GO!
After all, the Dimon/Blankfein administration takes over the White House in only 1,231 days, and they'll be looking for some old friends to show them how the West Wing works.
You need to be ready.