The return of Independent Counsel, Robert Mueller, would have been damning if it wasn’t so dull. The heart of his repeat performance before cameras and public (and partisans, too) boiled down to this statement “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not (obstruct justice) we would have said that.”
And that should be that, according to Mueller. Except that it is not. For he is not saying anything that gives traction, save to create more and lasting slipperiness.
He can never be condemned for extravagance of syntax; of playing with passions (or politics). And the paradox is that though he does not set out to do so, ends up doing precisely that.
Mr. Muller’s choice of language stands as an exercise in sparseness; a bow to blandness that brings mourning.
Reasonable doubt? Maybe, maybe not, is the road that Mr. Mueller takes everyone down. Sufficiency of evidence and proof? Depends on how sufficiency is defined; and if the special counsel would have his way, a nationwide referendum could be required.
And yet, there are these nagging, troubling echoes, compliments of his own handiwork. For double-digit instances of interference would sound like fair and balanced proof to most rational people.
But there it is: “if we had had confidence…” Not unreasonably, the question surfaces: what is required to instill some modicum of confidence? Some speck of confidence that is stirred, if not by ten instances of obstruction, then twenty, perhaps?
And it can also be posited not unsoundly, that the developments lead to another uneasy, disturbing place: it is likely, given the outlook and dogged nature of Mr. Mueller, that no number would have imparted the requisite degree of confidence that has proven-and still proves-to be so tantalizingly elusive.
Thus, the special counsel would not bite, or take any step. If there is a single redeeming feature in the man’s legal creation, it is that he cannot be accused of coming to the thorny, thankless task handed to him with preconceived notions, or of any racing to conclusions. Any kind or degree of conclusion. It is exasperating. It is comforting. It is inciting and (inevitably) rancorously dividing.
Mr. Mueller goes on in his unruffled manner: “that the president clearly did not…” No subtitles should be called for as to which president is referenced here. Thank God for that breath of merciful oxygen. It is a whiff of the life-giving. But at the same time, (if we had had confidence) that the Chief Executive “clearly did not”, opens a separate septic tank of who knows what.
That is, if anyone wants to go there. The element of doubt is definitely there: maybe not overwhelming to the degree of preponderance required in civil proceedings, but again there has to be resorting to and relying upon that benchmark of reasonableness.
All circumstances considered, was what was compiled clear and convincing? Obstructive? Though a head of state, in theory, is held to the same standard as ordinary citizens, the reality is that he or she is not. For there is that qualifier that comes with the weight of national obligations and expectations: the leader has to be purer than Calpurnia. Translation: exemplary.
Now the object of the probe has jumped on a high horse of his own fiction and it is off to the races. It is a horserace of one, with fellow political groomsmen cursing the uncontrollable skittishness of their charge. He charges ahead daringly.
The competition is not clearing out of the way (one horse and all); they are challenging from the side: all the other sides of the political paddock and fence. Already it is a furious melee.
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