I hate to break it to you, dear readers, but our government is in the midst of an identity crisis.

If the revered Founding Fathers had clear-cut ideas about which branch of government does what, how the powers counterbalanced one another and how jurisprudence and justice are supposed to be carried out, it’s all gotten a bit jumbled in recent months. At all levels of government — federal, state and local — public officials are exhibiting behaviors and exercising powers that no dutiful acolyte of “Schoolhouse Rock!” would recognize.

Maybe “identity crisis” isn’t quite the right turn of phrase. It’s really more a series of delusions, or perhaps misunderstandings, about who’s actually responsible for what.

● Public prosecutors seem to believe they are defense attorneys. At least that appears to be true in the case of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch. Typically, grand jury hearings are one-sided affairs in which the prosecution gets to cherry-pick only the most incriminating evidence in order to obtain an indictment, leaving out any evidence that might help a potential defendant. Hence the famous quip that any decent prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. But McCulloch and his team effectively cross-examined their own witnesses to discredit their case against Darren Wilson, by gently, leadingly questioning Wilson and aggressively challenging any witnesses who contradicted Wilson’s account. This can only be explained by McCulloch’s apparent confusion over who his client was.

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