A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 07, 2010
“Government is the enemy until you need a friend”

"Government is the enemy until you need a friend” is a saying of William Cohen, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator from Maine. The Washington (DC) Post‘s E. J. Dionne recorded the quote in 1996 and then used “Cohen’s Law of Government” in subsequent columns.

Cohen explained in 2008: “And I think that has been the posture, I think, of too many political leadership, always pointing the finger, saying, get government off our backs. You’re nothing but a bunch of bureaucrats. Well, bureaucrats are public servants, civil servants. The government is necessary. You can’t have a totally unlimited free market economy without the government having some regulatory responsibility.”


Wikipedia: William Cohen
William Sebastian Cohen (born August 28, 1940) is an author and American politician from the U.S. state of Maine. A Republican, Cohen served as Secretary of Defense (1997–2001) under Democratic President Bill Clinton.

21 December 1996, Washington (DC) Times, ‘Pitting Cohen vs. COhen”:
The op-ed page of The Washington Post has produced an interesting juxtaposition. One columnist, E.J. Dionne Jr., quotes Sen. William Cohen, the new defense secretary, as saying, “Government is the enemy until you need a friend.”

Mr. Dionne remarks: “Cohen’s Law of Government may be the wisest thing anyone has said on this question in the last decade.”

Google Books
Stand up, fight back:
Republican toughs, Democratic wimps, and the politics of revenge

By E. J. Dionne, Jr.
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
2004
Pg. 51:
The mood shift confirmed a favorite adage of former Defense Secretary and Senator William Cohen: “Government is the enemy until you need a friend.”

Washington (DC) Post
When Government Is ‘Good’
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, September 2, 2005
The sight of rescue workers, the police and the Coast Guard, governors, mayors, and federal officials struggling desperately with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina brings to mind Cohen’s Law: “Government is the enemy until you need a friend.”

Bill Cohen, the former defense secretary, minted the phrase nine years ago when he was a Republican senator from Maine. He was speaking then of a plane crash and the public’s hankering for more effective safety regulation. Cohen’s point was that government-bashing is easy in good times for those doing just fine. But when disaster strikes, many turn around and ask why government didn’t do more to prevent a catastrophe—or why it wasn’t doing more to relieve its effects.

Google Books
Annual Editions: American Government 08/09
By Bruce Stinebrickner
New York, NY: Dushkin Pub Group
2008
Pg. 27:
Meanwhile, EJ Dionne wrote in the Washington Post that the Katrina disaster proved “Cohen’s Law,” an axiom coined by former senator and defense secretary William Cohen: “Government is the enemy until you need a friend.” Cohen’s point, according to Dionne, “was that government-bashing is easy in good times for those doing just fine. But when disaster strikes, many turn around and ask why government didn’t do more to prevent a catastrophe — or why it wasn’t doing more to relieve its effects.”

NewsBusters.org
CNN’s Blitzer Ignores William Cohen’s Prior Service on AIG’s Board of Directors
By Mike Bates
Thu, 09/18/2008 - 20:02 ET
(...)
WILLIAM COHEN, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I said for many, many years, government is always the enemy, until you need a friend.

And I think that has been the posture, I think, of too many political leadership, always pointing the finger, saying, get government off our backs. You’re nothing but a bunch of bureaucrats.

Well, bureaucrats are public servants, civil servants. The government is necessary. You can’t have a totally unlimited free market economy without the government having some regulatory responsibility.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, October 07, 2010 • Permalink