I’m not much for standing ovations. I find them overwrought and overdone, especially in our beloved Twin Cities. Yes, I am the one, usually the only one, who remains seated, clapping politely, maybe enthusiastically, but reserving my top accolades for once-in-a-lifetime performances.
But this time it was different. This time I, like the rest of the audience, leapt, literally leapt to my feet when the speakers walked into the auditorium. This standing ovation was real and the speakers deserved it, even before they spoke a word. I speak of the venerated journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. You know, of Watergate fame.
Here is a test of age: tell someone you are going to hear Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein speak in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (I am not kidding about this). If they are below a certain age, say, 50?, they will wish you a good time and remind you to try out that new restaurant. But, if they meet the cutoff date, that is, being old enough to remember the summer of 1973, they will look at you with incredulity and wild enthusiasm and simply gush. It’s like you’ve told them you’re going to visit the Pope, or, perhaps in different circles, meeting Serena Williams or Alec Baldwin.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward really were and are heroes. They spent months investigating the Watergate break-in. They connected the dots and gave us a story. We were glued to our TV sets watching John Dean testify as the story got more sordid. Yes, Woodward and Bernstein exposed the crooks, and sent them, most notably, President Richard Nixon, packing. Oh, but it was high drama.
Not only was it high drama, it had an ending. An ending where the good guys, through months of hard investigative reporting, gave us justice, and we could all sigh with relief that the bad guys really did get caught.
This time, with the long-awaited Muller report, there is no such ending.
I heard a story on the radio a few weeks ago. A son was talking about his father who was dying in hospice. At one point, when he had only days to live, this beloved patriarch sat up and exclaimed, “Doggone it, now I’m not going to be able to hear the Muller report before I die!” That was his chief regret. Not that he had cheated on his wife, or not been a good father, no, he wanted to see the “the bastard” get his comeuppance.
And, let’s be honest, we all did. We loved the drama, oh, the anticipation of it all. But then it all landed with a thud. We don’t understand it, the collusion, the obstruction, the whatever. And honestly, we don’t believe that seeing the report will clear things up. We do know that some bad guys got put away for a while. But we get no ending. Just more analysis.
I am not suggesting that the Muller report was inadequate or faulty. I’m just saying it didn’t give us the ending we had been hoping for. It didn’t give us any ending. We in the audience want to cheer, breathe a sigh of relief, and go home. We want to be able to see a movie with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman (see “All the President’s Men) playing the good guys. We just want an ending.
And this Muller report cheated us of that. No closure. No more drama. Just lots and lots of never-ending analysis
I can turn off my radio. Skim the headlines. And that poor dad can finally die in peace.