OPINION

OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: A crisis of politics


There are at least three points to explore on the seemingly seismic matter of the special counsel choosing not to prosecute President Joe Biden on having classified documents at his home.

That wasn't what was seismic. What shook the American and global terrain was his describing Biden as a well-meaning and pleasant but forgetful old man a jury could not see as willfully criminal or want to punish.

First--and I say this first to get it over with because no one seems to agree with me--we need somehow to separate criminal investigation and prosecution from these failed and destructive political parties.

Justice is about objective truth and fairness. There is nothing about either contemporary political party that is objective, true, or fair. Republicans are worse, but that goes without saying and is no defense for Democrats.

It is true I offer no practical solution. Lawyers and prosecutors have citizen rights to associate with or favor political parties. And I have no idea how to get the Justice Department run with public accountability absent the president's oversight of it.

But the first thing that occurred to me when I heard that the special counsel, Robert Hur, had cleared Biden but essentially endorsed Donald Trump was that Hur must be a Republican.

His job was to make a judgment on prosecution, not editorialize on Biden's mental ability.

He is, indeed, a Republican. He worked in a Republican Justice Department and Trump appointed him U.S. attorney in Maryland.

He could be as sober and competently committed to justice as all get-out--and I think he might be; that he felt an obligation to explain fully his aversion to prosecution--but he will inevitably bear the burden of being of the opposing political party.

Partisanship and justice simply don't mix. Partisanship instinctively rationalizes; its synonym is bias. Justice has no instinct; it is by definition a judgment that detaches, waits and learns.

Second, we live in a tragic era of a politically hyperactive, politically over-reaching and generally meddlesome Justice Department that complicates the partisan labeling and appearance. We're getting too much Justice Department and not enough justice in our presidential campaigns.

James Comey, bless his busybody heart, cleared Hillary Clinton of criminality in whatever it was she did with an email server, but felt it necessary to assume a role of judge, jury and conscience of the American electorate to say she had behaved recklessly.

Now this special counsel declines to prosecute Biden but essentially attaches by uninvited postscript that Biden is demented.

Third, the historic political fallout that I expected from the special counsel's report--that Biden would be forced to drop out of the race within days amid great sadness, and that a new Democratic candidate would soon emerge--has not happened.

News reports Friday night were that Biden's news conference to decry the report's personal treatment of him was disastrous in its revelation of his mental ineptness. I hadn't yet seen the news conference. Later I did, and thought Biden wasn't all that disastrous by his usual halting standard.

Confusing Mexico and Egypt is not greatly different from confusing Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley, the latter of which doesn't greatly harm Trump because he is insulated against misstatement by his long immersion in lying.

Still, make no mistake: Biden's halting nature and an official government declaration of his cognitive weakness is a crisis for Democrats and the country. He is all that stands between Trump and the presidency, and Biden cannot make Americans feel good about him as their only option when he repeatedly conveys to so many that he's losing it.

The main reaction I heard from the right about Biden being replaced was buzz that the zany Vivek Ramaswamy, an appropriately failed GOP presidential candidate, triumphantly called renewed attention to his earlier prediction that Biden would drop out and that Michelle Obama would sweep in as the consensus nominee.

It would have to happen soon. And I don't think she wants anywhere near a personal political career.

It is true that her candidacy would energize the left as well as Black and women voters. It's a crisis solution. But, more broadly, the nation needs something fresher from the Democrats, not a perpetuation of the embedded national political resentment, alienation and dysfunction.

The nation needs a new Democratic face, which Bill Clinton was, which Barack Obama was, and which Jimmy Carter was. The Democrats need a candidate who might stand a chance of defining himself or herself during the vacuum while the Republicans searched madly for a contrived scandal on that person.

Meantime, Trump had a rally in South Carolina over the weekend and talked supportively of Russia invading our NATO allies.

Is there a Democrat aged in the 50s or 60s who could articulate with strength and clarity the importance of historic allies against brutal imperialism?


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected]. Read his @johnbrummett feed on X, formerly Twitter.


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