The Wind Beneath his Wings

In her acceptance speech this week, actress Patricia Arquette thanked Robert Mueller during the SAG awards on national prime time TV.

Of course expressing gratitude for the special counsel was appreciated by most of the glitterati in the audience and (mostly) everyone watching. The United States will explode with confetti when the investigation is complete, and Bob Mueller will achieve Messiah status. In fact, he already has.

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Robert Mueller is being called our patron saint of indictments.

But there’s no one on earth who will be happier when this is all over with than Mrs. Robert Mueller. Without her approval, devotion and support, America might be in a totally different place. Ann Mueller is an unsung hero who should be elevated to sainthood too.

Mrs. Mueller has made the ultimate sacrifice by loaning the country the love of her life to fight for justice at a great cost to her and her family’s personal safety and well-being.

And this isn’t the first time she’s altruistically supported her husband’s work on behalf of the American people. Ann has stayed by his side for nearly 60 years, through many life-changing events. These include the Vietnam War, college, law school, mob cases, job changes and the investigation of the biggest terror attack in U.S. history on Sept. 11. According to The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War by Garrett M. Graff, Ann and Bob met in high school and got married before he enlisted in the Vietnam War. She’s moved across the country and back for his career 17 times (always saying “this is the last time”). I’m sure she never dreamed of her husband being asked to serve again in such a high-profile, dangerous and stressful investigation at a time in their lives when things should be slowing down. (They are both 74 and have been together for 57 years.)

Bob’s approach to the Russia probe, a web of intricate, decades-long, international crimes that makes Watergate look like deflategate, must be as carefully carried out as brain surgery. He must present an air-tight, rock solid case that even the most ardent Trump supporters can’t dispute and he can’t rest until every Stone is un-turned (pun greatly intended). As a result, Bob’s dangerous, demanding and high profile assignment as special counsel has taken him from Ann, their daughters and their grandchildren on weekends, nights and holidays for nearly two years. He could have a cushy, more predictable, higher-paying job in private practice – in a much fancier office. Or, he and Mrs. Mueller could be playing golf or relaxing on a cruise during the comfortable well-earned retirement they both so deserve. Instead, he’s chosen to serve our country once again, with Ann by his side.

Once upon a time, Bob dreamed of anonymity. After 9/11, he told the Chicago Tribune, “My kids are grown up and away,” he said. “But it has affected us in what we do and the freedom we have to move around. But by the same token, it becomes part of the job and it will always be here. And you do it and hopefully down the road you return to anonymity.”

That road has long since vanished. Things will never be the same for the Muellers. Bob will forever be larger than life in our minds and in the history books. Generations will never forget his central role in investigating the biggest political scandal in American history. But no man is an island. He could not get through this alone.

They say behind every good man is a good woman. It couldn’t be truer in the case of Robert S. Mueller III.  We love you and thank you, Mrs. Ann Mueller. We will be indebted to you forever.

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Ann Mueller is an unsung hero in all of this and should be elevated to sainthood, too.



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Deflategate’s Silver Linings Playbook

Served up nicely on a silver platter, Deflategate presents a valuable opportunity

Never in the history of modern times have we been presented with such a golden opportunity to teach our children as we have with the sensational ‘Deflategate.’ Its lessons can particularly resonate with adolescents, who know of Tom Brady and the Patriots, whether they are football fans or not. Young brains are so plastic, learning from incidents during this time will have has a long term impact, making the controversy even more important to talk about. In The Age of Opportunity, author Laurence Steinberg stresses how the adolescent brain is a sponge and that most memories are rooted during that period. In the book, he writes, “Nearly everyone recalls adolescence more powerfully than any other stage of life.”

Another reason to discuss Deflategate is because lying occurs, often frequently, among this age group. No longer under the constant supervision of schools, caregivers or parents, adolescents have more freedom to do things and go places that adults may not approve of. So it’s not unusual to stretch the truth, even among the most compliant, well-behaved kids. Child behavioral therapist and author James Lehman says that teenagers lie or tell half-truths for many reasons, from to avoiding things they don’t want to do, to covering their tracks. So any opportunity to teach them about the consequences of deception is a valuable one.

The other day, I was driving my daughter and her friends to the high school. Usually, I just listen in to their conversations like a fly on the wall. But when a voice from the back seat said that deflating the footballs was “no big deal,” I had to interject. Here’s what I told them:

Any action that gives one team a competitive advantage over another is against the rules. Period. End of story. On top of that, Brady was not upfront during those press conferences last winter. Months later, his this has come back to bite him. The Wells Report uncovered several incriminating text messages that implicate who was involved in the pre-game shenanigans and why. The findings conclude that Brady “more likely than not” was aware of what transpired. In a 20,000 word rebuttal, the Patriots organization fights back, providing some ridiculous interpretations of the messages. The “deflator” was talking about weight loss? The ‘Tom’ cited in the texts is not the football player? If these statements weren’t so comical, everyone would be mad about having their intelligence insulted. So whether you are on the field, in the workplace or in a relationship, being on the defensive is never a good thing. Remember this for the rest of your lives. As for letting air out of some footballs, that act, in and of itself, may not seem like a big deal. Lying, evasiveness, stonewalling and covering it up is. In a big way.  And if you do mess up, admit it. Brady could take a page from the Justin Beiber playbook. In the current edition of Seventeen magazine, the pop star explains, “You have to own up to your mistakes. You have to say I let you down.”

Brady could put an end to his public relations problems right now. By accepting his punishment like a man and the MVP that he is and taking it on that adorable, dimpled chin of his. His legions of fans will forget the incident long before the “balls” jokes have faded from Jimmy Fallon’s monologue. Not only that, he’ll gain favor among a whole new group of people for heroically showing us he’s not perfect and that he’s just like the rest of us. He’ll even be immortalized as a college case study for communications students. An upside has never looked so good! On the other hand, Brady can continue to deny the allegations as his credibility sinks like the sun after a late afternoon game. Recovering one’s positive image is difficult and can be a long time on the bench of life. Even for the most beautiful man on earth and the greatest NFL player that ever lived.

We passed the football field and the girls seemed like they were listening. I wrapped up my rant with a simple message that applies no matter who you are or what you do: Always tell the truth. And nothing but the truth.

Needless to say, the girls were a little late for school, but my message about honesty, maturity and accepting responsibility — all sprinkled with a little PR 101 — was right on time. For parents, educators and other influencers of young people, Deflategate is being served up on a silver platter right now as a life lesson. Don’t fumble it.