Email #272: “fair and impartial”?

Why in your Sunday Roanoke Times editorial about the Special Counsel investigation into our current President do you focus your attention instead on our former President?  You mention “Obama” by name three times, but “Trump” only once and then only indirectly when you say the Special Counsel is investigating “individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” Why are you promoting the verifiably false claim that Special Counsel Mueller is not investigating the President too?

You mention the Obama administration three more times, but not the Trump administration at all. Your logic is most contorted when you refer vaguely “to the past history of the Department of Justice’s inaction during the previous Administration” as justification for your support of Special Counsel Mueller’s appointment now. You more vaguely claim that “confidence in American institutions has waned in recent years,” implying the eight years of Obama’s terms, while ignoring the more severe drop in confidence during the last eight months. You insist that we should not “ignore possible crimes committed by a previous Administration,” even as you ignore the possible crimes committed by the current Administration.

You explain that you are not “interfering with the special counsel’s work” but that you “will continue to closely monitor this investigation and exercise appropriate oversight as necessary.” This means that you have not exercised any oversight yet—even though you also claim to “look forward to providing rigorous oversight.” The descriptions “rigorous” and “as necessary” are contradictions. And though “monitor” and “oversee” are synonyms, you say you will “closely monitor” in order to determine whether you then need to “oversee.” What exactly does “monitor” mean then? Are you just reading the news like the rest of us? You say the Special Counsel must not “proceed under … lax oversight,” and yet from your own account you have provided no oversight, lax or otherwise.

You say you want to “assuage any concerns that the investigation might be swayed by political considerations,” “regain much needed trust and confidence in our law enforcement and political institutions,” and “restore integrity to the system.” Despite this noble, non-partisan rhetoric, the content of your editorial communicates the opposite. You say you want a Special Counsel investigation that is “guided by facts” and “unimpeded by political motivations” including “politically-motivated whims”—and then you announce your own politically-motivated whim by calling for a second Special Counsel to investigate the Obama administration. This contradicts your own opening statement that you “thought the career officials at the FBI were able to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry into” relevant issues.

While I understand your editorial was targeted at those who already support you and President Trump, your focus is short-sighted. How will your editorial be judged six months from now–or six years? You are writing the defining documents of your quarter-century congressional career, and they portray you as a doublespeaking partisan propagandist evoking the very principles you violate.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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