Letter: Reader: This ain’t onebody’s tell
Our public psyche needs simplicity to render a verdict reflecting justice and fairness. Everything, and I mean everything, is capable of reduction to eloquent truism. Consider the variety of snippets that have come to define issues of sober and somber importance regarding our constitutional form of government.
“Sir, the girl’s here with the pizza.” “I did not have sex with that woman.” “It’s been going on for 1,000 years” in reference to a vice president’s complicity in kickbacks. The “Rose Mary Stretch” demonstrating in splayed gymnastic contortion how 18 minutes of Watergate tapes were erased. And finally: “I am not a crook.”
With the right turn of phrase, presumption of innocence flows rapidly to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt almost effortlessly. Contrast with these pithy ditties Peggy Noonan’s recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece gamely stating our current constitutional crises in 53 words: “Can we prove, through elicited testimony, that the president made clear to the leader of another nation, an ally in uncertain circumstances, that the U.S. would release congressionally authorized foreign aid only if the foreign leader publicly committed to launch an internal investigation that would benefit the president in his 2020 re-election effort?”
Whew! A nation awaits an author (Democrat, Republican, media mogul, journalist, talking-head) to but utter an irrefutable truism that captures for our public psyche the essence of the high crimes and misdemeanors requiring the removal of the president from the office for which he was elected.
So far, we have Democrats saying: “he said”; and Republicans saying: but “she said.” We have a whistleblower who cannot be examined for veracity and bias, and reputable and honorable public servants distressed at conspiratorial overtones. Add to this national transcript the two main actors, and others, saying “it’s not so,” as well as concern over whether money flowed without the “quo” in “quid pro quo.”
We simply must have a turn of phrase for posterity to understand this constitutional moment. Wisdom and guidance comes from, of all places, “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”
Character Savannah Nix, in fictional Aboriginal dialect, expresses the need for truth and history to be passed down from one generation to the next: “This you know: the years travel fast, and time after time I done the tell. But this ain’t onebody’s tell. It’s the tell of us all, and you’ve gotta listen and to ’member, ’cause what you hears today you gotta tell the newborn tomorrow. I’s lookin’ behind us now into history back.”
Further on, Aunt Entity finds simplicity in the search for truth when a crisis presents: “You think I don’t know the law? Wasn’t it me that wrote it? And I say that this man has broken the law. Right or wrong, we had a deal. And the law says, ‘Bust a deal and face the wheel.’”
If ever this impeachment inquiry ends, it will be the “tell of us all,” not just “the tell” of “onebody’s.” And before our president faces the wheel, somewhere we must find an understandable pristine phrase that explains truthfully for us and the newborn of tomorrow how President Trump “busted the deal.”
For now, I am sticking with “I like Ike!”