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Is Trump up to cleaning out corruption?

Kenneth D. Gough • Feb 18, 2018 at 8:30 AM

There is a principle in philosophy called Occam’s Razor. It’s been around in one form or another since ancient times, but as I understand it, it says that if there are many different possible explanations to a problem, the simplest is to be preferred. Perhaps you remember the clever cartoons by Rube Goldberg of incredibly complicated devices designed to do simple tasks. Yes, it’s possible to turn on a light by going through 20 different steps involving everything from firing guns to hamsters on a wheel. Or, you can just walk over to the wall and flip the switch. According to Occam’s Razor, the simpler method is better, although perhaps not as amusing.

Which leads us to Donald Trump, of course. Evidence is growing — it’s not conclusive yet, but it’s getting there — of a widespread effort by the Obama administration and, shall we say, its “friends” in the Justice Department, FBI and other government agencies to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign and ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory.

To those of us who lean right, as well as the vast muddle in the middle and more than a few who lean left, this is concerning if not shocking. Most people share the conviction that public servants are, well, supposed to serve the public without favor or bias. We know that people make mistakes, and understand that even the best of us fall short of our ideals, but what the evidence shows is something very different than good people trying and failing. Perhaps conspiracy is too strong a term, but whether it was a coordinated effort or not, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Hillary’s friends in powerful places were doing everything they could to help her by hurting Trump.

But, no big deal, it was all done for a good and righteous cause. Donald Trump had to be stopped, and if a few rules had to be bent or broken, a few ethical lapses tolerated, a little perjury between friends committed, all’s well that ends well.

This is what is commonly known as “corruption”.

Readers of my column will know that I am no fan of Donald Trump, voted for him only because the alternative was worse, and fear the nation will regret its long dalliance with Trump and the Clintons. But far more important than who holds the presidency at the moment is adherence to the Constitutional order and the rule of law.

If this explanation is right — and Occam’s Razor suggests it is — then it shows, among other things, that the railing on the right about the Washington swamp is not lunatic, but disturbingly close to the mark. The leadership in government agencies that are supposed to be apolitical was playing politics under the cover of law, conducting both criminal and counterintelligence “investigations” with the intent of digging up dirt on Donald Trump and derailing his candidacy. When that failed, they turned their efforts to undermining his presidency and having him removed from office. Perhaps it’s too strong to call it a coup d'état by other means, but it’s getting too close for comfort.

This is not a wholesale indictment of the Justice Department or FBI or any of the other agencies which have been put in a bad light. I can see the FBI agents in a field office somewhere far from Washington, going about the unglamorous daily work of law enforcement, cursing the follies of their bosses and wondering how they could be so stupid. The Jim Comeys and Peter Strzoks of the world have undermined their own agencies and severely damaged their credibility by playing games that anyone with half a lick of sense and a smidgen of integrity knows they have no business playing. Nor can they plead ignorance of the law — they’re lawyers, for goodness’ sake. The good people of the Justice Department, FBI and our intelligence agencies deserve far better.

And now the task of cleaning up this mess falls to the one man probably least suited for the job. Donald Trump is no paragon of virtue himself, his reckless maverick nature has alienated many of the Republicans who would otherwise be his best allies, and the Democrats won’t help him with anything unless it involves hanging himself.

Hillary’s friends, formerly in high places, have no one to blame but themselves for this outcome, not that they aren’t trying. Their machinations backfired big-time, and the confusion they helped sow went a long way toward convincing the fence-sitters in key states that a change was needed in Washington, even if it involved hiring a man who learned everything he knows about politics from “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones,” and who thinks gold-plated toilets are classy.

Kenneth D. Gough of Elizabethton is a semi-retired businessman.

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