The Mueller Report: The Movie - Notes Ahead of Congressional Testimony by Robert Mueller, Wednesday, July 2019
|Cover to the Mueller Report|
Why We Need Robert Mueller to Become Teacher of the Year in the Classroom Called American Democracy
Robert Mueller will testify in front of Congress on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. In his brief remarks about the "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election" AKA "The Mueller Report," he noted that he only wanted to give that brief press conference and then have everyone read his report because it "speaks for itself."
I find this to be a ridiculous position to take. I mean, if you knew all that he knows, and you were in his position, would you be as reticent to testify and bring the dense 400 page report to life for the general public? What is at stake if you just say "do the reading?" He is acting like this is all occurring in a vaccum--a vacuum in which all sides act in good faith. They do not. Yes, it's his prerogative to remain small-c conservative, and not go outside of the bounds which he has sets for himself when it come sot ideas to propriety, but this is not the time for small-c conservative action. This message of his, that he does not want to testify, that he thinks his book shouldn't be turned into a television series starring him, this is a win for the bad guys. Why doesn't that bother him? Why doesn't he see this?
"It's Not His Job"
I hear a lot of Mueller supporters say it's not his job to teach us what is in his report, beyond what he has done already in writing and releasing it. That that's where his responsibilities end, and it's up to us to consume the report and do something about it.
It is his "job" to fight the biggest threat to democracy AKA the Iron Triangle of "organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders," as he identified and defined in a 2011 speech to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York "The Evolving Organized Crime Threat." It's his job to fight the Iron Triangle, just like it all our jobs to fight this insidious thing.
He has not given us all that we need to fix our problems (which by the way, are his problems, too, as an American). And it is all of our "jobs" to do all we can, to the best of our abilities, to resist autocracy.
His reticience to see things as they are instead of as he wants them to be and act accordingly, is not honorable. It's a stubborn adherence to conservative principles that is only serving the bad guys.
Further, testifying, and bringing his report to television in live testimony could be part of his actual job, if he chose it. Neal Katyal, the author of the current rules for any given special counselor in the Department of Justice, has noted often that the special counselor can speak for his/herself if they chose.
A Nation of Readers
If Mueller were a teacher who wrote a book on grammar, and then as a teacher went into a classroom of typical teenagers and said, "I presume you've all read my very dense and intricate book on grammar, as I instructed, and now you are all well-informed about grammar. My work is done," he'd be fired. I'm sorry to say that the average American must here be compared to the typical teenager. In addition to having lives outside of current events, which keep us from reading 448 page legal documents from cover to cover, we are also more inclined to as a culture to read exciting books, like Harry Potter, than dry government documents. That's not our fault--that's just how a brain works: it likes to be stimulated.
I'm not even blaming this on America not being a nation of readers. Because, in fact, we ARE way into reading. We love reading. We read newspapers and tabloids, mysteries and romances, self-help books and graphic novels. We read sports reports and Twitter threads and vaguebook social media posts. We love reading in America. We really do. We just don't like reading boring, dense, dry government reports, even if they contain shocking, alarming information about an asymetrical warfare attack on our democracy.
Teacher of the Year
To conitnue with my teacher/student metaphor a bit, if the public are the students, and your goal as Mueller, as the teacher, is to garner a certain outcome (impeachment inquiry leading to due justice and accountability), then he's failing as a teacher, in this metaphor.
Maybe some people think that's asking too much of the "teacher," but whether it is or not, engaging the public in the medium through which you will garner their attention most easily and obviously (publicly televised hearings) is the only way to get to the outcome we need right now.
It's also a matter of practicality and reason. Not everyone is absorbs information best by reading (logical). If you want the public to learn everything in the report, because the future of our democracy depends on everyone understanding its contents, then you have to engage people in all the known methods in which information is absorbed and synthesized.
You can either be "that teacher" who may be quite knowledgable in their subject, but aren't good at reaching/feel it's not your job to engage the students and disseminate that knowledge in a manner guaranteed to reach them, or you can stop being small-c conservative and actually make the impact you wish to make with the report.
Mueller has stated a preference for being the former, though tomorrow he will be asked to change his approach. To remain in the confines of "read the report; it's all in there" is a feckless principled take, that serves no one except those who wish to undermine justice and democracy.