We all yearn to be Yossarian, but Chaplain Tappmann is probably the best we can manage on a good day: A perpetually puzzled, easily bullied, well-intentioned chaplain whose faith is continually in the balance.
And let me begin by chiding that other Joe Heller, not the late author of the increasingly relevant “Catch-22,” but the cartoonist who appears here with some regularity: The Mueller Report is not really 448 pages long.
To begin with, at least half of it is footnotes, and they are citations, not insights, so you can ignore them, which brings us down to 224 pages.
And then some of it is redacted; I’ve heard six percent and that’s an okay number for me, and if we accept that figure, we’re down to about 210 pages. Not exactly “War and Peace.”
And nobody reads every word of a dense text like that: You skim to points of interest, absorbing context as you go, and then read those specific sections in detail, which is why journalists complained that an honest briefing would have meant handing out the report at 9 and having Barr do his presser at 11.
In two hours, they’d know enough to be able to call his bullshit, if not prepare a detailed analysis.
Especially since so little of it turned out to be new, which is where Chaplain Tappmann’s sense of deja vu comes in and where I become furious.
Ann Telnaes gives us a post-Mueller portrait of Trump’s blockers, with the main difference being that Kellyanne Conway created the term “Alternative Facts” more than two years ago, while Sarah Sanders was pretending to be honest and has only been unmasked as a deliberate liar in the Mueller Report.
But we knew she was, at best, avoiding direct answers and we suspected she was going beyond spin and into abject lying.
And so now we know what we already knew.
In today’s Candorville, Lemont addresses a question I’ve raised here several times: Is the man an intentional liar or simply delusional?
Mueller stopped short of indicting him for collusion or obstruction for that reason: They couldn’t read his mind and pin down his intentions.
Which, as others have pointed out, is up to Congress and we seem to be moving in that direction.
However, Matt Wuerker points out that the GOP, like everyone else, has known all along that the Trump White House is corrupt, dishonest and disorganized. They didn’t need the Mueller Report to confirm it, but even with the report in hand, they refuse to respond to its non-revelatory revelations.
I’d note that most of the flaws, faults and felonies scattered around the elephant’s chair are things we knew well before the Mueller Report and most of them aren’t even in it.
But the real question is, what would it take to get an honest response?
Andy Marlette places us where we seem to be: Mulling over the legal technicalities and far, far short of the moral demands a decent nation would seek.
We’ve been here before: When the Church Committee issued its 1976 report on the abuses of the intelligence community, everyone threw up their hands and gasped, except for the people who had, for a decade, been complaining that their phones were tapped, their mail opened, their lives disrupted.
And I streamed “The Miami Showband Massacre” on Netflix yesterday with much the same response: That investigation of the murder of a popular band revealed that the British Army and the police in Northern Ireland were conspiring with Unionist terror groups, supplying them with arms, information and legal cover.
But if you said it, you were accused of siding with the terrorists.
(Quick quiz: Anything else come to mind?)
Now comes the Mueller Report, telling us things that were reported all along, which we knew, but which were denied and derided as liberal prejudice and lies.
Jim Morin wouldn’t have a literary allusion to make if what he suggests were not so heart-breakingly true. Orwell’s work would be long forgotten, except that he was right and here we are.
So that’s the deja vu and the jamais vu and the presque vu all wrapped up in a bundle, and paddling off to Sweden may be fine for Orr and Yossarian personally, but it leaves the rest of us stranded here where nothing ever changes.
However, there is this good news: Kevin Necessary and his collaborators have just won a Murrow award for a long-form graphic piece that examined the lives of a family of undocumented immigrants through the eyes of their teenage daughter.
At the time it appeared, I noted it and said, “Kudos to him, and his collaborator, Breanna Molloy, and especially to Cincinnati’s WCPO for recognizing that a good cartoon can be the right vehicle for an important story.”
A week later, I revisited it in criticizing the Pulitzers when they honored Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan for a similar piece on a Syrian refugee family, but called it an “Editorial Cartoon.”
In that latter piece, I laid out in full my objections to prizes generally, adding that the Pulitzer Committee didn’t understand the format:
It’s not a matter of which is better than what, but, rather, one of “Where the hell have you been?” because this type of reporting has been going on for a very long time and I would contend that it is prominent and important enough to deserve its own category. … The Pulitzer Committee needs to establish a new category for Graphic Journalism, because it’s clearly, obviously not the same thing as Editorial Cartooning.
To which I would add that nobody is going to read 448 pages or 224 pages or even 210 pages of the Mueller report, but, in the words of Wm. Marcy Tweed, anybody can look at those damn pictures.
And I wish they would and so it’s good that Kevin and crew were honored, because getting out the information in formats people will digest is how journalism works.
Now how about a little encore vu from those who reward such work?
And save the deja vu for prom: