It’s 2020. The New England Patriots, winners of six straight Super Bowls, are having yet another routine meeting with the Commissioner’s Office.
Deputy NFL Commissioner Tom Brady and his chief of staff, Rob Gronkowski, OK a rule change that forgives the Patriots for illegally taping other teams and deflating football over the preceding years. Meanwhile, members of the Patriots continue to happily contribute funding for the commissioner’s new 45-room castle in Turks and Caicos, and Bill Belichick agrees to continue coaching the commissioner’s 12-year-old son in Pop Warner football.
Would that bother anyone? Because the above is pretty much going on today, only the team is called Google and the commissioner is the president of the United States.
Sure, since we’re talking about politics, the giving and taking of favors works in a slightly more indirect way. But only slightly. As Michael Kinsley used to say, the scandal about corruption in Washington is not the stuff that’s illegal but the stuff that’s legal.