Friday, June 20, 2014

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Both Hindus and Buddhists tell the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant.  In the story, a group of blind men are all touching different parts of an elephant and get into an argument about what the animal must be like--based solely on the small part that they experienced.  It's meant to teach a lesson about perspective and the truth.  We have a modern-day equivalent of the Blind Men and the Elephant before us today with the release of the Scott Walker John Doe investigation documents.

There is something for everyone in the more than a thousand pages of documents, transcripts and memos.  Opponents of the Governor are seizing upon the phrase used by the special prosecutors to launch the investigation: "center of a criminal scheme".  It conjurs up the image of Lex Luthor or Al Capone sitting at a giant desk with designs of a grand operation on a bulletin board behind him.  As an added bonus, every liberal's favorite person--Karl Rove--is in the mix with an email exchange with the Governor.

Supporters of Scott Walker have plenty in there as well.  Including the findings by both a Federal and a Circuit Court Judge that those special prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to warrant a trial--or even to bring the matter to a criminal court--even as they continued to probe more and more conservative groups.

And so, both sides find their own "truth" in the investigation--depending solely on their personal biases.  But where does the actual truth--the whole elephant if you will--actually lie?  Here's what I see:  Both political parties have high-paid, high-powered, highly-creative legal teams that dedicate their entire time to examining current campaign finance laws with the finest of fine-tooth combs looking for any and all loopholes.  Those legal teams parse every word contained in the laws and cross-reference them with all other statutes on the books.  And after a thorough legal examination they provide party officials with plans and scenarios that go to the very limit--we are talking about a Planck Length--of legality.  Party leaders then put those plans into motion--hoping to avoid legal challenges--but confident that the confusing web of campaign laws will catch the predators and not the prey.  And when those legal challenges--like the one against Scott Walker did--come up empty--everything that was done becomes the new "playbook" for the next candidate.

I'm sure the Walker John Doe probe will lead to calls for more campaign laws and more restrictions that just feed the cat-and-mouse game played by the lawyers on both sides.  You make the rules, we find ways around them--all in the name of "winning" a zero-sum game.

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