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home : columns : columns November 16, 2018

2/6/2018 2:13:00 PM
Fear and loathing in D.C.
By Craig Rullman

The bludgeoning of our Republic continues.

For the sake of argument, consider this: Suppose the Republicans are right, and the Russian collusion narrative is, in the words of Victor Davis Hanson, "an incoherent effort to destroy Donald Trump's candidacy beyond the bounds of normal politics and later a renewed and unprecedented endeavor to abort his presidency."

Suppose the collusion narrative actually is manufactured out of circumstantial evidence, combined with a wildly visceral hatred of Donald Trump.

Suppose the thought of Trump in the White House so horrified Democrats that the collusion narrative was invented by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the DNC, Perkins-Coie, Fusion GPS, Russian agents via Richard Steele, and with the complicity of biased and/or incompetent agents in the FBI.

Suppose it was all rubber-stamped by corrupt attorneys in the Department of Justice. And, importantly, suppose all of that was done in an attempt to influence the election outcome in favor of Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party.

But what if none of that is true and the Democrats are right? Suppose Donald Trump actually is a sexually deviant racist and a proto-mafioso fascist charlatan.

Suppose he really did collude with Russian agents by way of elaborate, quid-pro-quo money-laundering schemes carried out by a cadre of shady campaign aides and managers - Paul Manafort, Carter Page, General Flynn, et al - with the ultimate aim of securing Russian assistance to influence the election in his own favor.

Suppose that unbiased and professional investigations into the Big Truth are now jeopardized by acts of obfuscation and obstruction from the Trump administration.

Suppose the unprecedented dismissal of Director Comey, the leave of Deputy Director McCabe, the implicit threat to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the possible collapse of the Mueller investigation are the harbingers of a dictatorial overhaul of Federal law enforcement.

Finally, for the sake of argument, consider a third alternative: Suppose that both sides in the equation are sitting on elements of truth in their respective narratives, and that both sides - enormously powerful entities driven by fear and whose only real purpose is to secure more power - engaged in illegal and/or underhanded tactics to influence the outcome of a free election.

And then consider that while both candidates, their parties, and the caterpillars of their campaigns were engaged in these murky, Deep State operations to influence votes the only real loser was actually you, and your faith in the integrity of due process in our elections and our judiciary.

At the end of the day, after all of the committee meetings, dossiers, FBI texts, partisan media bashings, the carousel ride of prosecutors and directors and deputy directors of this or that, the tweets, the recusals, and the accusations of treason, it is really only Larry and Mary Lunchbucket - that's you and me - who pay the price for arrogance and corruption in our politics.

We lose because under any honest analysis the continuing dysfunction in Washington has raised serious questions about the integrity of our entire electoral process. Worse, it continues to batter confidence in our ability to honestly investigate powerful politicians and their organizations, of any persuasion.

And when we lose the honesty and transparency of due process in this country, when party affiliation is finally more important than justice, we will have lost that thing which distinguishes us from the average narco-terror state or tinpot banana republic.

There is an argument to be made that only a healthy republic would be having this kind of shouting match to begin with. Only in a country whose institutions are essentially sound, the thinking goes, would any of these high-stakes political skirmishes be happening without car bombs, kidnappings, and wholesale political jailings.

We can be grateful that it isn't, yet, but in a nation rapidly transitioning from can-do optimists into miserable, media-saturated cynics, one wonders how far away from that sort of thing we might actually be.

And no serious observer of this partisan war of accusation and counter-accusation, of investigations into investigations, should ignore what writer Gavin De Becker calls "The Gift of Fear," that evolutionary gift of intuition and apprehension that allows us to interpret the presence of danger.

And there is terrific danger in the wild polarization of our politics, and the partisan temptation to settle for a result no matter how it was achieved.

You might despise Cliven Bundy, for instance, find nothing compelling in his beliefs, and wish ardently for him to be imprisoned. But a wiser person celebrates the system of due process that declared a mistrial when government prosecutors were found to have repeatedly lied and to have withheld material evidence in his case.

The triumph of due process over politics and pandering is a win for us all.

In the meantime, we can all hope that whatever the truth in the big collusion extravaganza may be, it will eventually shine through.

But we aren't there yet, and it will only happen if our elected representatives - and the Fourth Estate - vigorously insist on the victory of transparency and due process over individual politicians and political power.

And their behavior thus far in that regard - where both sides of the aisle, elements of the major media, and maybe even the FBI are still carrying water for their respective champions - leaves much to be desired.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Article comment by: Jane Poss

Outstanding piece. Keen, balanced, and in the public interest.

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