• Daniel Ethan Finneran


March 2019

The blameless among us, the great novelist and subtle feminist George Eliot once remarked, are always the most exasperating of people. Our chief frustration with them, as that clever Victorian vixen pointed out, is their gnawing and incorruptible innocence—their disinclination toward sin. The issue, of course, is not actually with them but with ourselves; we hate to see people so untarnished and pure. It’s an acute reminder of our own blemishes and the many and mounting faults of which we’re in sole possession. We loathe the recognition of a higher standard by which we might be measured and so we scorn he (or, in Eliot’s beguiling case, she) who, unlike us, is without sin.

To Eliot’s insight that it’s the blameless who are of all people the most exasperating, I’ll offer a humble addition: it’s the accusatory who are the most enduring. Yes, the blameless may unwittingly irritate, but the accusatory will never relent. And unlike the blameless, they’re determined, dauntless, but often gratuitous. They’ll never desist until guilt can be laid, regardless of the person upon whom said guilt ultimately rests. The blameless will prove unimpeachable; the accusatory, indefatigable. Like an immovable object confronted by an unstoppable force, at the end of the day, the latter continues his chase while the former defends himself from the unyielding raid.

While it’d be perhaps heedlessly lenient to regard as fully blameless President Donald Trump (one need only hear uttered the words “Stormy Daniels”—like Eliot’s, a pseudonym for the exigencies of professional use—to silence the hagiographic odes heard sung about this glaringly fallible, nauseatingly prurient man) so far as the Mueller Report is concerned, he appears to be just that. Politically blameless in a way never previously thought possible.

Admittedly, we typical, preferably apolitical Americans have good reason for thinking so extraordinary a proposal impossible. For over two years, we’ve been treated to a veritable deluge of partisan speculation from the media outlets upon which we once relied. The mainstream media—so thoroughly deserving of an alteration of their name; perhaps the mendacious media will come into use—have not only insinuated, but overtly declared with unequivocal assurance that President Trump was beholden to the Russian government from the very start. He was a beneficiary, they said, of Vladimir Putin’s pernicious attempt to infiltrate the American electoral process and install a president from afar. It was Russia’s design, they repeatedly claimed, to implant in the White House a Manchurian candidate, a pliable political tyro non compos mentis who’d be readily amenable to foreign intrigue.

They couldn’t moderate their zeal. They couldn’t reign in their quixotic expectations and patiently await the facts. At various times, as if to impress upon us, the viewing audience the immediacy of Trump’s pending doom, they used images like walls closing in or nooses girdling necks. Bombshell after bombshell dropped, each less explosive than the last. Instead what we’ve witnessed is the complete implosion of the vaunted fourth estate. Regarded as one of the pillars upon which democracy stood, the news-media has been blown asunder and its antipathy toward truth revealed.

Though at times this brazen narrative seemed at the very least compelling (most memorably when the events surrounding the Trump Tower meeting were detailed, or when George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone were indicted, or when President Trump himself appeared to be unctuously solicitous of Vladimir Putin’s political aims), it ultimately fell through. After innumerable subpoenas were issued, countless interviews were conducted, and millions of taxpayer dollars were spent, those of us who funded this wild goose chase are now left looking anticlimactically at a blameless man.

Through his exhaustive and exhausting investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled no proof of the collusion we were all guaranteed. Surely, one can’t quibble with Mueller’s process. It was, by any measure, an absolutely plenary affair. Every stone was overturned, every darkened crevasse illuminated by his prosecutorial light. There simply was nothing to see.

But the imagination sees what it wants and feelings can’t be helped. To the sensitivities of the political left, President Trump was the epitome of exasperation—no one could rival him in the frustration he elicited. Now blameless beyond a doubt, that exasperation has grown. For the sake of its own health, the left needs a remedy for this misguided pique.

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