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Editor's Column

The fix is in

Looking for a ‘fixer’ to install a showerhead, argue a parking ticket, or negotiate peace in the Middle East

Gabe Kahn is the editor of The New Jersey Jewish News.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Sometime in the last few years — don’t remember the details, but it was the time when our president roiled people with something he said or did — I started hearing the term “fixer” being thrown around about his former attorney, Michael Cohen. A couple of weeks ago I heard it again, this time in reference to Donald Trump’s current attorney, Rudy Giuliani, with regard to the mayor’s fixer, Lev Parnas, who was arrested, along with another Giuliani associate, on charges related to federal campaign finance violations.

I had heard “fixer” used before, primarily with regard to fictional characters associated with the mafia, but not so much in reference to people in real life. Still, the media freely threw around the word as if it were common parlance, so much so that they didn’t even bother
defining it.

Which is logical, I suppose. Fixer might not be the title Cohen or Parnas list on their LinkedIn accounts, but we pretty much know what it means:
If a client has a problem, it’s the fixer’s job to, you know, fix it.

All this talk has made me wonder if I should have a fixer of my own.

You think that I don’t have the kinds of legal troubles faced by Messrs. President and Mayor to warrant having a fixer? Au contraire, I plan to fight the parking ticket I was issued last week, even though I’ve yet to find a defense as to why the meter was expired for at least 20 minutes by the time I made it back to my car.

Another reason I need a fixer: On the first day of Sukkot we couldn’t find a crucial piece from the LEGO set my in-laws had — in blatant disregard of my orders not to further spoil their grandchildren — given to my son. I don’t drive on yom tov, but if I had a fixer on retainer (and within walking distance, ’cause I don’t use the phone, either), I could have sent one to the nearest LEGO store to purchase the missing piece. Instead I had to make several (empty) promises to an apoplectic 8-year-old that I would replace the piece myself. No matter how you feel about Cohen, is there any doubt that he would have taken care of the situation had the same regrettable incident befallen Barron Trump?

How about an even more literal definition of a fixer, the kind I need most: one who can help with household projects. Some people are born with an aptitude for home repair, but to my dad’s eternal disappointment, I was not, and there isn’t a journalism school in the country that offers a workshop on, well, workshopping. I’m so useless in the area of home improvement that had my parents not visited last year and helped me re-mount the rack of hooks that had just fallen off our bathroom door, I would have moved rather than put it back up myself.

But it’d be selfish of me to waste the talents of a fixer just because I’m allergic to the contents of a toolbox, especially when our country is staring directly at our most divisive political issue in a generation.

Of course, I’m referring to the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, a piece of legislation attached to the major tax reform bill passed in late 2017, that reduces taxes on alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, the law is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019 — a provision clearly conceived by a sadistic individual who enjoys giving people something they want and then watching them suffer by taking it back. Legislation to extend the cuts indefinitely was introduced in the Senate in February, but the bill is still in committee and the clock is ticking.

The collective Jewish community doesn’t agree on much, but I think we can speak with one voice – loudly and with the music from “Braveheart” playing in the background – that they may take our capital gains, but they’ll never jack up the prices on our Manischewitz and Slivovitz! Sending a fixer to knock sense into whichever senators are holding up the process would be my top priority.

The thought of lending my fixer to Israel to square away all the country’s problems was intriguing until I realized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu most certainly has a host of fixers at his disposal already (case in point: President Reuven Rivlin, who bypassed Benny Gantz and gave Bibi the first crack at forming a government last month). Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history and, to quote J.T. Walsh in “A Few Good Men,” “You don’t get to that position without knowing how to sidestep a few landmines.”

Or maybe I should reconsider the benefits of having a fixer. From a distance it seems all roses, found-LEGO pieces, and a newly installed light fixture in my living room, but it’s difficult to overlook the fact that most of the fixers and their employers are in a substantial amount of hot water these days. Parnas is under house arrest and awaiting trial in Florida; Cohen is serving a three-year prison term in an upstate New York jail with kosher food and a daily minyan; federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Giuliani for his work in Ukraine; Bibi is facing an indictment on corruption charges; and Trump appears to have caught the attention of congressional Democrats and even a few Republicans for something related to a long-distance phone conversation (I haven’t been following that closely so I’m assuming he called collect or went over his monthly minutes on his cell-phone plan).

In the end, having a fixer sounds good, but the anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not worth the risks that come with it. Even so, perhaps I could hire one for something small, something any idiot could do, like, say, write a column.

Contact Gabe Kahn via email: gkahn@njjewishnews.com, or Twitter:
@sgabekahn.

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