Once in a while I wake up on the wrong side of the bed for no reason. Sometimes I wake up on the right side of the bed for no reason. On April Fool’s Day I woke up on the right side of the bed and committed to keep the good mood going as long as possible. My morning visit to the coffee shop immediately tested my commitment.
“After two wasted years of dragging his integrity through the mud, the poor man was fully exonerated! Why don’t these Democrats let our duly elected president do his job?” the grizzled man in front of me said as he grabbed his coffee. “Oh, but they love that Jussie Smollett.”
He caught my eye. “Incredible!” He shook his head. “Unbelievable!”
“Incredible,” I nodded. “Unbelievable.”
My coffee-shop friend grumbled out to the warm, spring morning air. (It would be drizzly late winter by afternoon, but that’s another story.) I ordered my tea and recommitted to keeping my mojo going. I thought about the relative importance of Ol’ 45 and Jussie Smollett to the rest of my day and the fate of the nation.
Not that important. To either.
Despite roller-coaster April weather, the regeneration of true spring is coming. The Mueller investigation is over and the house voted 420-0 to make the report public. I’m not about to let Jussie Smollett, or an apologist for our poor “duly elected” president’s besmirched integrity, or Ol ’45 himself tarnish my good spring mood.
At first it seemed odd my coffee-shop buddy linked Smollett and Ol ’45. One is a bad actor with a chip on his shoulder. The other is a worse actor with a boulder on his. But, other than lack of talent, what do they have in common?
Maybe my coffee-shop buddy linked them because they both claimed exoneration after being a focus of law enforcement investigation. POTUS was a small piece of a larger investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. To date the investigation has yielded over 30 indictments, including a long-time political hack with a Nixon tattoo on his back. Because Robert Mueller did not find overwhelming evidence to justify criminal prosecution of a sitting (or golfing) president, Ol ‘45 claimed he was exonerated. He’s not. Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller report explicitly states the report “does not exonerate him.”
Jussie Smollett claimed he was assaulted because he is black and gay. Suspects provided sufficient evidence to investigate whether Mr. Smollett set the whole thing up. After weighing that evidence, the State of Illinois accepted Mr. Smollett’s community service hours and money in lieu of a costly, lengthy prosecution. Mr. Smollett claimed because he wasn’t prosecuted, he’s exonerated. He’s not. The Cook County prosecutor stated her controversial decision “in no way exonerates him.” In their own way, and, for very different reasons, neither one is worth prosecuting at this point.
The fates of the tarnished integrity of two individuals don’t interest me. I’m more concerned about the tarnished integrity of the electoral process. The most troubling finding of Mueller’s report is the Russians clearly interfered in the 2016 election cycle with intent of sowing discord and specifically benefitting our now sitting president. I hesitate to jump to conclusions, having not read the 400 pages of the Mueller report. (I’d have to get elected to Congress to do that.) However, it appears the best-case scenario of this administration and its apologists is our sitting president was an unintentional, unwitting stooge—a beneficiary of a sophisticated and successful attempt by a foreign power to damage the integrity of our electoral process. In the worst-case scenario, members of the administration may have helped.
Assertions of “duly elected,” appear “incredible!” and claims of “exoneration,” are “unbelievable!” What is very believable is spring is here and there’s a lot more to do to revitalize our democratic process than focusing on the fate of any one person, no matter how “unbelievable” that person is.