It Just Doesn’t Matter

Hurricane Maria, September 2017

Surely readers of this blog will recall one of the great motivational speeches of all time, delivered by a trim and suave Bill Murray in the 1979 comedy classic, “Meatballs.”

On the eve of the summer’s final inter-camp competition against the rich and privileged Mohawks, Murray, as “Tripper,” preaches truth to his North Star campers, telling them, “It just doesn’t matter” if they prevail – given that “all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they’ve got all the money!”

Casting logic aside, Tripper’s speech crescendos into a rousing chant of “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!” and the North Star campers, if nothing else, get a few feel-good moments before having to face the daunting realities awaiting them the next day on the fields of battle.

That speech came to mind when I read the news that Jared Kushner, among others (including his wife Ivanka Trump), set up and used private email accounts to conduct official White House business – after Donald Trump’s putative election as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Let that sink in a moment.

Notwithstanding the results or implications of Special Investigator Robert Meuller’s ongoing inquiry into the question of the Trump campaign’s collusion with foreign agents seeking to influence the 2016 Presidential Election, there is no doubt concerning the gravity and importance of allegations levied against Trump’s electoral opponent, Hillary Clinton, that her own use of private email to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State in the Obama administration disqualified her from consideration as a viable choice to head the Executive branch of the Federal government.

In media outlet after media outlet during the campaign, every consideration of Ms. Clinton’s policy proposals, or of her fitness for office in general, contained a summary with one variation or another of the qualifier, “but her emails.”

In the aftermath of Ms. Clinton’s surprising loss in the Electoral College (despite a tally advantage of more than 3 million in the Popular vote), it has been widely suggested an 11th hour letter about her use of private email from FBI director James Comey to congressional members of the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Government Oversight committees probably swayed the election in Trump’s favor as much or more than any one thing.

Now, some may surely ask, “why are you complaining now about Kushner’s use of private email if you thought Ms. Clinton’s practice was no problem?” And it’s a fair enough question, as far as it goes.

The private email? It just doesn’t matter!

What does matter is that Republicans, and Trump in particular, beat the drum of Ms. Clinton’s private email server so loudly during the 2016 campaign that the Trump administration ought to have to answer now for its own officials’ failure to comply with the law concerning official business conducted by government agents. It should also be noted, loudly and often, that Ms. Clinton’s use of private email was not contrary to any law or regulation at the time she used it.

But it just doesn’t matter.

Of course, some things ought to matter, like the President’s continuing accumulation of personal emoluments while in office – a flagrant violation of constitutional law. Likewise, this President has flaunted the traditional prohibition against official nepotism like none before him. Members of his Cabinet are among the most blatantly corrupt and entitled officials to hold office since some in the Reagan administration.

It just doesn’t matter.

Why? Because, like the Mohawk campers in “Meatballs,” they have all the money.

Trump and his ilk, including nearly every single member of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, represent, first and foremost, the interests of the wealthiest members of the population and have no interest in, nor care for the needs or desires of anyone below them.

Surprisingly, then, what little popular support Trump still retains in recent opinion polls seems firmly rooted in overwhelmingly white middle and lower-middle class communities who, in large part, are more concerned about the threats of Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration than they are about the disfunction of government or the corruption of democratic processes that are front-and-center to anyone who dares look.

This, despite all evidence to the contrary indicating the things they fear are far less likely to impact their lives than are the things they believe just don’t matter.

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