Stirewaltisms: Of Presidents and Precedents
Executing a search warrant at a former president’s home is unusual, but there have been plenty of investigations of powerful people.
OF PRESIDENTS AND PRECEDENTS
I’m going to throw a Strunk and White (paperback) at the next pundit who uses the term “unprecedented.”
We are a country that has been through federal criminal investigations involving multiple sitting presidents, their families, vice presidents, presidential candidates, Cabinet secretaries, senators, representatives, and at least one Supreme Court justice. It would be right to say that the FBI executing a search warrant at a former president’s home is “unusual” or “remarkable.” I might even turn a blind eye to “historic.” But, yea, verily, there is lots and lots of precedent for criminal investigations of and criminal conduct by America’s powerful people.
Whether the previous investigations were merited usually depended on one’s political affiliations. Republicans called the Iran-Contra probe a “witch hunt” aimed at damaging the reputation of Ronald Reagan and harming the chances of George H.W. Bush in 1988. Democrats said much the same of the many, many probes into the Clinton family over the years.
In many cases, there has been truth to the claims of politically motivated investigations. But not always. In both Iran-Contra and the manifold misdeeds of the Clintons, there was plenty of substance to the underlying investigations. Of course, the same partisans then tended to switch from saying that the target was wrongly accused to saying that the offense was not serious or that the law was being applied in an uneven fashion. Indeed, the papier-mâché martyrdom of the Trumps seems quite akin to that of the Clintons—much like their determined, damaging grips on their parties. Today’s White House interns weren’t even born when Bill Clinton was impeached, and yet he and his wife are still hanging around. Might the Trumps persist in an even denser cloud of scandal, greed, and solipsism for decades to come?