John Bolton’s abrupt departure as National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump is only the latest sudden exit from a top job in this troubled administration. The White House is the center of the turmoil, but for that reason, the instability reverberates widely and powerfully throughout Washington, the federal government and the nation at large.
The imagery of the United States government as a “ship of state” is historically rooted in ways that speak directly to contemporary times, including the exceptionally turbulent White House. The captain of even a small ship cannot afford to constantly change direction.
Staying on course is crucial. Serious storms are a danger, but can often be avoided or deflected. This is true in politics as in seamanship.
The criminal justice system is not precise. The burden of proof in a criminal case is not guilt to a mathematical certainty or beyond all doubt.
Last week was “Justice For All” week at NBC. The method of distributing justice to everyone was a “Dateline” special titled “What life is like inside a maximum security prison,” which followed “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt as he spent two days at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (popularly known as Angola or the Farm), and a town hall at New York’s Sing Sing prison Sept. 8.
Neither show revealed very much of what happens inside maximum security prisons. What they did was prove how accountability, journalism and prisons don’t mix, at least not as well as they should.