I frequently write these notes a day or two before I post, and the Easter Holiday resulted in a bit greater delay here. Only after it was written did I become aware that UT Sen. Mitt Romney had also indicated that he was “sickened” by what he read in the Mueller Report. I am pleased to echo Sen. Romney’s sentiments. A link to his statement is included at the end of this post.
This will not be a note on the innards of the Mueller Report; my aging eyes refuse to spend hours reading a screen and my aging printer was horrified at the notion of printing 500 pages, so I have only read the 18 or so pages constituting the Special Counsel’s respective Introductions and Executive Summaries for Volume I (dealing with Russia’s interference in our 2016 election and its interaction with Trump Campaign principals) and Volume II (addressing President Trump’s actions relating to the investigations of the Russians and his Campaign’s activities). When hard copies of the Report are available, I intend to read the gory details. What follows is heartfelt, but likely nothing you’ve not already heard or felt.
Although I have deliberately not watched a lot of the commentary that has spewed forth from either side since the Report was made public, in what little I have seen, the Progressive talking heads have focused on the Report’s description of what arguably amounts to the President’s obstruction of justice, while the President’s propagandists (I refuse to call them Conservatives) have loudly noted both Mr. Mueller’s failure to find sufficient evidence of illegal conspiratorial activity by Trump Campaign principals, and the decision by Attorney General Barr – now, regrettably, appearing to be a partisan shill – that there is insufficient evidence to find that Mr. Trump obstructed justice. Both sides have speculated whether Democrats will attempt impeachment proceedings.
To me, none is the main point. I am literally sickened by what I have read – as if I have gorged on too-rich icing of a cake even before eating any of the filling. What I find grievous is the litany, even in the few pages of these Report Volumes’ Summaries, demonstrating the moral bankruptcy of the President and his cohort. The Volume I Summary makes crystal clear that Mr. Trump and his aides flirted with an enemy nation in an attack on another American and in disregard of obvious American interests to further his own political and financial fortunes. [Although I found the President’s efforts to obstruct justice outlined in the Volume II Summary less shocking – simply the tawdry flailings of a flimflammer availing himself of the prerogatives we have accorded George Washington and his successors – it is patently clear that Mr. Mueller intended his investigation to provide the groundwork for Congress to consider impeachment proceedings (See Fn. 2, Page 1 of the Introduction to Volume II)]. I concede that there is little in the Summaries that we didn’t already know or surmise, but the sheer weight of it has had a surprisingly marked impact on me; it has laid bare the amorality of the individual now bearing the most responsibility for the wellbeing of our nation and our people.
It may come as a surprise to those that know me only through these posts – but as no surprise at all to those that know me personally – that of the Presidents of my lifetime (Harry Truman – Donald Trump), I consider Ronald Reagan the most accomplished and, at least until 2003, Jimmy Carter to have been the least productive. That said, no one has ever doubted that both, opponents in 1980, were honorable men. I will hand Mr. Trump this: in all my years absorbing politics, I had actually taken for granted that our national candidates intended to put our nation first, no matter how I assessed their abilities or their positions … until we experienced his presidency. That is not to say that all of the Presidents of my lifetime were paragons – most issues facing a President are cast in shades of gray, and by no stretch could one consider at least John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, or Bill Clinton to be choir boys — but none, as far as I am aware, ever interacted with an enemy nation for personal or political gain. It’s beside the point whether the Trump Principals’ behavior related to Russian interference in our election process amounted to criminal activity; it was wrong. Notwithstanding the high regard I have for Mr. Reagan’s performance as President and the disappointment I retain about Mr. Carter’s, if the two stood before us in 2020 as they did in 1980, and I could foresee that each would conduct the presidency as he did, but further, foresee that behind the White House gates, Mr. Reagan would conduct himself as wantonly and malignly as Mr. Trump has … I would cast my vote for Mr. Carter, and be proud of it. Our nation remains strong; although we’ve stumbled a bit in this century, we still have the wherewithal to muddle through an ineffective and/or inept presidency. What we cannot sacrifice is our honor. Policies can always be modified or reversed; character is rarely redeemed.
I find it a great tribute that our children and a number of our nieces and nephews follow these pages; I hope that our grandchildren, at some point when they’re quite a bit older, read some of these notes if for no other reason than to get some idea of their grandfather. For all of them, I note here that which those of us that are a little grayer are already aware: American leadership, whether able or misguided, has not – has never – carried a stain like this. More importantly: it doesn’t need to be like this in the future. I would hope for the remainder of their days, they will cast their ballots upon a framework, first, of their assessments of the candidates’ characters, and only then – if (as we hope will at all times be the case) both candidates are honorable people as far as can be discerned — upon their ability and policy positions.
Americans will always be better off with an honorable president they disfavor than with a scoundrel who curries their favor while seeking his/her own good. I believe that the 2020 presidential election will be the most consequential for the spirit and essence of America that I will see in my lifetime.