Maimonides and Mueller: A Guide for the Perplexed

perplexed

Washington Post, 5 persistent myths about the Mueller report

So here’s the thing. Let’s say that it’s your job to explain a complicated fact pattern, and to apply, to that complicated fact pattern, a set of subtle and recondite legal concepts. Let’s say that it is, then, your job to explain what you have done in a document of several hundred pages. Let’s say your intended audience is largely made up of people inclined to think in slogans rather than multi-step logical analysis. And let’s say you are working in an environment where a lot of smart but badly intentioned people are going to twist your words to make it sound as if you said something you did not, in fact, say.

And let’s say your object is to be widely understood, notwithstanding the audience’s innate disposition to think in slogans and to nod off when presented with an analysis of any complexity.

How do you proceed?

Well, first of all, you have to think very carefully about how your words might be misunderstood. And about how they are going to be twisted.

And then, having thought long and hard on these matters, you need to write REALLY, REALLY CLEARLY.

By these standards, the Mueller report is not quite up to snuff.

I don’t know why it’s not up to snuff. But the simplest explanation is that writing clearly about complex legal topics, for a semi-informed audience, is really, really hard to do. Trust me on this.

In any case, the Washington Post piece, by someone named Aaron Blake, cited above, provides some help for the perplexed.