Our ‘Not Me’ politics of personal grievance

Our ‘Not Me’ politics of personal grievance
© Getty Images

In the mid-1970s, cartoonist Bil Keane’s popular comic strip “The Family Circus” featured a cute but devious little invisible gremlin named “Not Me.” This gremlin took the blame for various happenstances in the family household that the children denied having committed. “Not Me” often was seen translucently floating away from the scene of a broken vase, spilled milk or bad behavior, wearing an expression of innocence with shoulders in shrug.

Today, “Not Me” seems to have grown up to become the most influential figure in American politics. He’s also gotten a little louder, angrier and more bitter.

This gremlin dominates the storylines of the Russia investigation, scurrying about to deflect blame from President Donald Trump. “Not Me” would have us instead look at special counsel Robert Mueller and his “witch hunt hoax” as being responsible for all the headlines. Or, more intriguingly, “Not Me” points to Attorney General Jeff Sessions who, by virtue of accepting his appointment, doing his job and following the law, seems to be responsible for the entire probe.

But the White House is far from the only place we find the “Not Me” gremlin scurrying about. The campaign of the one-time aspirant of the White House, Hillary Clinton, spawned a colony of the gremlins bounding afoot. Why did you lose Hillary? “Not Me” says it was former FBI director James Comey’s fault. No, wait, it was Vladimir Putin’s fault! Or, most interestingly of all, it was Barack Obama who didn’t make James Comey more forcefully and publicly investigate Vladimir Putin! In any case, “Not Me!”

In the long history of duckers and dodgers in American politics, it is hard to pin the blame for the “Not Me” rampage on one person, but this week’s events remind us that one person does seem to have the unique capacity to showcase the little devil more so than any other. Unsurprisingly, it is…

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