On March 7th the Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, appeared on CNN and explained, “If the president of the United States said that, he’s got his reason to say it.” I have a different take on our President saying our former President ordered a wiretap of his building. Admittedly, my take may be off-based, evolves out of tainted experiences, somewhat culturally biased, too much salt in well-earned wounds.
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The call was taken at two in the morning. The person on the other end readily identified himself and why he was calling. Introductions were not needed. We knew each other. I listened to both tone and tenor. He seemed tired, frantic, relieved that a person answered the phone so early in the morning. Said he was told I may be still in the office. I thought, sad, how predictable I have become.
“He’s in jail.”
“Charged with what?”
“I think, drunk driving. He struck a bicyclist on the seawall.”
“Were you with him …?”
Initially fashioned as a request, “can you come down to the jail,” before seeing a pause in the sentence, as reporters are wont to do, smelling weaknesses, changing course in mid-sentence, somewhere between the dash, a comma, the semi-colon, converting the initial inquiry.
“Get him out of jail.”
“Where is he?”
Initially doing what he was trained to do – reporting – “Drinks, dinner ….” Pausing, stopping, consumed by the personal nature of the facts, forcing him to circle around the facts, going directly to the end of the story: “Then it happened. Out of nowhere…” No context, a total failure to develop any characters, disregarding the plot, stripping the story of content, adjectives, pacing. The wind didn’t blow. The sun refuse to rise, suspended animation was the order. Mother Nature provided no assistance, remaining cloistered, never part of the story. The wordsmith was no more, ignoring his well-horned profession, captured by the moment, suffering professional, premature ejaculation, spitting the conclusion out, stripping away suspense, feelings, texture. What they ate, don’t know. How much they drank, he didn’t tell. Whether the lawyer was drunk, intoxicated, your guess is good as mine.
Mr. Premature was someone who I had previous involvement, as the subject of the story; providing background for other stories; the game of avoidance, when not wanting to comment, an indirect invocation of the right to remain silent. We had one firm commonality though, agreeing on the meaning of a free press
Mr. Confined was a lawyer, a local practitioner, plying his trade in a relatively large firm. Smallish in stature, possessive of an exaggerated walk, banty-rooster like, causing the hair on his head to take on a windswept appearance. The world was his oyster; controlling the stage, this time from a holding cell, a little loudish man. Hollering at the top of his lungs, extending both hands out from behind the bars, pointing, sweeping doubts aside (as to who was in control), threatening everyone within ear-shot.
“Do you know who I am?” … “I will have all of you fired.” … “Do you know who my uncle is?”
Able to detach, in a parallel sense, pretending to be in the control of the facts, even though he was the facts, the reason everyone was duly gathered. Ignoring my plea, “you are being recorded.” Ignoring, screaming, pointing, threatening everyone with their livelihood.
“Get me out of this hell hole!”
The jailers’ emotions provided color, slipping back into the text adverbs, similes, metaphors, adjectives; mumbling conspiratorial whispers, enveloped in bated breaths, “Damn-jiggety … his paperwork just got lost!” Watching for reactions, getting reactions; my eyes uncontrollably jumped from place to place; my fingers doing an involuntary dance on the counter, tapping, striking, moving from place to place, unwinding, spinning, spinning, spinning – out of control.
“We told him he was being recorded.”
Words said definitively, matter of fact words, not inviting a reaction, not waiting for a reaction. Slipping paper in a slot, adding for good measure, “Mr. Griffin, the recording is working.” The additional statement evoked smiles, broad gleeful smiles, This is a Wonderful Life type of smiles, followed by gallows humor … little jokey jokes … invading the air, flowing from different directions, much like the flooding from the Gulf, when she’s angry, ebbing and flowing, rising and falling, pushing, spoiling all within reach. The invasion provided clarity, showing the futility of politeness, the previous stab at politeness.
“Shut the hell up!”
He did. He didn’t.
Changing ever so slightly, containing his conduct, the best he could; inserting a dash, not a period. A drip, drip mumble, wrapped in a permeable bubble, contained, not contained, out and over, much like a shaken beer, into the air, onto the floor, moving upward, flooding our ears, reminding everyone we were dealing with a fool. Ghost-like qualities were not his.
They saw. They heard. They recorded.
“He ran in front of me. I should file charges against his ass.”
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Criminal lawyers normally suppress common curiosity, not wanting to know the entire picture, until after discovering, learning what the government has on the accused. Their approach is consistent with the constitutional requirement placing the burden of proof on the government in criminal prosecutions. Adapting, much like Darwin’s theory, surviving in hostile environs, working backwards, moving forward; structuring the defense from known and unknown facts before uttering a word. I hope I am making sense.
Our President in his former life must have been an out-of-control, ethically challenged, defense lawyer (civil or criminal, you pick), operating on a level unparalleled in the history of the defense bar. Spreading rumors – tweeting, tweeting, tweeting – changing the subject, stirring the pot, getting others to talk before responding; determining whether there was a tape, remaining quiet, changing the subject; trying to remember what was said to others, running for cover, in order to control the facts. Did I say, changing the subject? If I haven’t, I am now. If I have, repeating the same is paramount to understand why I muse.
Retreating to the Winter White House, obsessing throughout the night, into the morning, before saying another word about the new revelations he read, knowing, just knowing, he has to control the facts. Shaming inquirers to discover the extent of the exposure; questioning, blaming others, spreading rumors, flat-out saying others should be investigated … before retreating for cover.
“The Whitehouse will not make another statement about the President’s tweet(s).” … “The President’s tweeks speaks for themselves …”
Purposefully disassembly in order to control the story; spreading rumors, surmise, guesses, changing the story; operating by a different set of facts, manipulating the language, creating a new word salad, a life-long behavior. Engaging in behavior worse than the most unethical lawyer; creating facts out of whole cloth, willing to ignore established rules, rising early to tell others. Tweeting from the White House; seeing nothing wrong with this practice; no longer characterize as a practice, now a well-horned, embedded character trait. Keeping the story going, controlling the story, declaring enemies, proclaiming, “I and I alone am the purveyor of the truth.” … Tweet, tweet….
Wondering over dinner – “What is the document everyone keeps talking about?” Hearing mumbles, provoking shock from others, almost in unison … “The document is the Constitution!” Sitting mere yards, inches away when they spoke; not invisible, not ghostlike, protected still because, he – the President – didn’t understand the significance of the words spoken. No one tried to explain, perhaps engulfed by fear, perhaps a need to protect themselves, their positions. Stymied movement, silenced wisdom; knowing they should know better, been trained better; suppressing explanation, ignoring the profound significance of the aberrant behavior, played out in real-time, with real-world consequences.
No different than the confined lawyer, self-absorbed, self-anointed, never capable of understanding the aberrant nature of his behavior. Different, free to wreak havoc, tattering and shredding the Constitution, by the minute, hourly, daily; never seeing the aberrant nature of his behavior, and not caring.
I muse to say the defense lawyer-in-chief is disassembly, pointing fingers to find out whether there are tapes on him. Spreading lies, casting surrogates far and wide, standing in front of the press and the American public, using the word, “if”, wrapped around different connotations. Spreading doubt, for sure, hoping someone will reveal their hand and say “yes”, “no”, providing the administration a hint how to proceed.
One who has taken the oath, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” has quickly discarded the oath. Maybe he, our President, has never really understood the meaning of the words spoken, readily discharging them, inverting the words, imposing the burden of proof on the rest of us.