Official versions drawn from investigations of earthshaking cultural or political events either help us sleep better or beset us with insomnia. If we’re honest with ourselves, often something other than objective openness to the facts will inform the acceptance or rejection of an official version. Not surprisingly, the existence of personal bias can make the difference.
What will Mueller’s “official version” of what happened before, during, and after the 2016 election reveal? All we can say with certainty is that there will be millions of happy faces on one side of the aisle, and just as many unhappy faces on the other. If President Trump is completely exonerated, his millions of supporters will be happy, vindicated, and will exhale a collective sigh of relief. Onward, MAGA, and Keep America Great. If the Mueller probe turns up credible or even spurious evidence leading to a censurable or indictable offense committed by the president relating to any matter whatsoever, the angry left will rejoice.
But even if Mueller does not deliver the goods, should Democrats regain a majority in the House of Representatives this midterm they will continue to infer that the Russian connection is real, that somehow Mueller missed it, and at the same time advance new and unrelated accusations to shadow the Trump presidency.
Some people are geared to the need to move on. Though they may have doubts about the findings or veracity of a finalized report, acknowledging that certain troubling questions may never be answered, they rationalize that it’s better to put an episode like the Kennedy assassination or the death of Princess Diana into the rearview mirror. The rationalization here is that even arguably credible alternatives to official versions only prolong the societal turmoil created by the event itself.
Another personality stripe cannot let an official version they ardently disbelieve go unchallenged. They continue to stir the ashes, persist in making the case that the conclusion reached by whatever duly appointed judicial or investigatory entity is flawed, and that the harm of not getting to the possibly bitter truth is far worse than the undermining doubts created by a prolonged rehashing long after the official version creators have packed up and gone home.
Official wrap-ups of tragic events can be very appealing. The Warren Commission, lone gunman, Oswald, a Commie sympathizer, with his rifle and lucky shots from the book depository. No need to speculate about the mob, the CIA, Fidel Castro. No need to agonize over who else might have been on the grassy knoll. Wrap it up—the sick bastard—and let the healing began.
Or—there had to be more to it, can’t believe Oswald’s bullets did what they said they did. There is something very wrong going on in this country.
Lady Diana’s death was all wrapped up with a nice bow, and we could sleep on it. Yes, the “people’s princess” had been abandoned by Prince Charles, the queen, and the queen mother. A thoughtful, philanthropically inclined woman, she couldn’t abide the manor house anteroom they’d dusted for her. Wrong for Prince Charles, hadn’t seen her kids in months, something of a rogue, and yet—
—an Arab playboy. A drugged and drunken French security chief at the wheel, off-duty but called back to work. High speeds in the tunnel to escape the loathsome paparazzi. It made the kind of sense we wanted it to make: if only she’d kept her place, a royal single mom, tarnished but alive. The official version of what happened in Paris that night would not go undisputed. To this day the ashes smolder in the minds of people we call “conspiracy theorists,” who tweak our thinking with second thoughts and unsettling doubts. We desperately want to believe that the royal family would never be capable of orchestrating something like Diana’s death, but maybe the official version is too neatly packaged for us.
The 9/11 “truther” conspiracy theories are perhaps the most egregious, a dark chapter in the history of paranoid theorems. The Jews didn’t come to work that day. Bush and Cheney let it happen to foment war. Controlled demolition. Regarding the events of September 11, 2001, fortunately, the official version conclusively triumphed.
Back to Mueller. If his investigation comes up with nada, the president’s vociferous critics, the Nevers, and leftist ideologues whose very existence has become plagued and devalued by Trump’s victory, will not give up the Russian ghost easily. As we reach the 45th anniversary of the beginning of the Watergate trial, which eventually brought down President Richard Nixon, there are sharks in the water. They will turn on Mueller, their erstwhile savior, and likely question the integrity of his investigation. The left will remain angry, become angrier.
But if Mueller has built an evidentiary case against the president, however spurious, the take-down Democrats are salivating over will be greatly facilitated.
Of those who celebrate and support President Donald Trump, those who believed from the beginning and those who have come to believe, a bottomless sense of betrayal and civic hopelessness will descend. They will be suspicious of Mueller’s official version and resigned to the reality that the Deep State is ultimately unstoppable when threatened and that there are entrenched powers that not even a Constitution, a free Republic, or a great people can withstand.