The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Toxic Brew

Over the first 140-plus days of his presidency, Donald Trump has been under vicious, unrelenting attack from: (1) Democrats who seeth over his upset victory and his un-PC, uncouth persona; (2) the Republican elites who are angry that he humiliated, insulted, and ultimately beat their chosen candidates; (3) the so-called "deep state"—government employees who are more than a little threatened when a politician has the guts to suggest that the swamp of mismanagement, waste, and corruption they have created might need to be drained, and of course, (4) the media whose left-leaning bias is so palpable that they truly have become what Glen Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

These four constituencies tell us that their attacks on Trump are driven by alarm over the Russian connection—the unhinged, evidence-free meme that Trump and/or his people worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, these past 140-plus days demonstrate the infamous statement of Nazi-propagandist Joseph Goebbels—"a lie repeated enough times becomes the truth." At this point, I have no doubt that countless members of each of the four constituencies actually believes the meme and becomes more hysterical about it with each passing day.

This hysteria coupled with venal partisan politics is a powerful, if toxic, brew. It has worked its magic. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, has been appointed to conduct an investigation of all things "Russian" and, as special counsels are wont to do, all "related matters." The four constituencies have won a significant victory. Trump is under siege, his agenda in tatters and his very presidency on the line.

The Dems, the GOP elites, the deep state, and the media are popping figurative bottles of champaign and congratulating themselves for bringing down the monster Trump. The economy is threatened, the stock market has reacted negatively, healthcare is at risk as Obamacare implodes, international threats abound, but the four constituencies don't care a whit—it's all about taking down Trump. The rest is acceptable collateral damage.

Everyone is singing the praises of Robert Mueller—a man with impeccable credentials and a history of high ethics. The right thing to do is to back off and let him conduct his investigation. But the four constituencies won't back off, prefering instead to add more poison to their toxic brew.

And what if Mueller finds (as I suspect he will) that "Russian collusion" is a mirage, that at very best, a few peripheral people had suspect financial dealings (with no direct connection to the presidential election) with the Russians that were far less egregious and potentially illegal than the quid pro quo payments made by Russians to the now defunct Clinton Foundation. What if he states that Trump and his people did NOT collude with the Russians. Will the four constituencies accept his findings or will they pick them apart? Will they find the one or two comments, buried deep in his report that connects a peripheral person to a Russian business deal and scream "impeachment?" We both know the answer to those questions.

So as the four constituencies congratulate themselves for this impressive exercise in power, regaining the power lost when their candidate was badly beaten in November, they should keep one thing in mind. In the swamps of Washington today, power is fleeting. The four constituencies should keep something else in mind as well. By conducting a political and media coup again this president, they have implicitly attacked the "deplorables"—the 60 million plus Trump voters. If they succeed in toppling Trump and nullifying a democratic vote, there will be a lot of angry people out there. That just might create a different toxic brew that will poison the the waters for a generation.


The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment on the role of a special counsel:
The problem with special counsels, as we’ve learned time and again, is that they are by definition all but politically unaccountable. While technically Mr. Rosenstein [senior DoJ official who appointed Mueller) could fire Mr. Mueller if he goes too far, the manner of his appointment and the subject he’s investigating make him de facto untouchable even if he becomes an abusive Javert like Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush Administration.

What the country really needs is a full accounting of how the Russians tried to influence the election and whether any Americans assisted them. That is fundamentally a counterintelligence investigation, but Mr. Mueller will be under pressure to bring criminal indictments of some kind to justify his existence. He’ll also no doubt bring on young attorneys who will savor the opportunity to make their reputation on such a high-profile investigation.

Mr. Mueller has experience in counterintelligence and at 72 years old has nothing to prove. But he is also a long-time Washington player close to the FBI whose director was recently fired, and he is highly attuned to the political winds. As they say in Washington, lawyer up.
This is exactly what the four constituencies want and why they have achieved a great victory for themselves. Kudos for them. Sympathy for a country that needs to get meaningful things done.