Sunday, March 31, 2019
Yesterday it was all about the Mueller report and the Barr letter.
Today the news and commentary seems to be focusing more on the press itself: whether the MSM will ever own up to the magnitude of their mistake/lies (I very much doubt it). How much their coverage of Russiagate has damaged their reputation, and with whom. Whether they even recognize how much this has damaged their reputation. What their next move will be.
And on and on and on—for a few examples, see this, this, this, this, and above all this from Matt Taibbi, who is most definitely not on the right and not a Trump-supporter in any way. And the MSM tries gamely but ridiculously to defend itself here, here, and in what is perhaps my favorite headline of all: “Trump Is Bullying the Media Into Falsely Exonerating Him of Russia Corruption.”
You cannot make this stuff up. But the headline writers at New York Magazineapparently can, and it’s not in parody.
The question I want to try to answer right now is why did they do it? Why the nonstop incessant seemingly-interminable beating of the “Trump is guilty of collusion and there is evidence” drum? By “they” I mean the MSM, more than the Democrats, although the two work hand in hand of course. Why did the media stick their collective necks out on such shaky-to-nonexistent evidence, knowing how tenuous it was, and that the day of reckoning might indeed come?
I offer the following reasons, not mutually exclusive (although some are):
(1) They truly thought Mueller would find collusion, either because they really believed Trump colluded with Russia, or because they thought Mueller was partisan enough to find collusion where none existed.
(2) It was a kind of tulip mania, a contagion that spread throughout their ranks, a wishful thinking squared and then cubed.
(3) They didn’t think of the future at all. There was only the eternal-seeming present, in which this story fed their own Trump-hatred and drove ratings. Their audience craved it, and so did they.
(4) They figured that if the day of reckoning and Trump’s exoneration ever came, they could spin it to their advantage (or at least deflect it), as they had done so many times before with so many other stories.
(5) They thought Trump would make many many more missteps, and one of those missteps might intervene to cause his downfall independently of this. And meanwhile, they had a great and ongoing story to keep them going.
(6) They were gearing this to Congress, and thought that a combination of all the Democrats and a significant number of Republicans would believe the story and impeach Trump or even impeach and convict him, even before Mueller was finished.
(7) I actually think this last one is the most important: Watergate.
Watergate turns out to have been the worst thing that ever happened to the press in my lifetime, although they probably think it was the best and the high point. It gave them not just delusions of grandeur but an actual example of their power to bring down the mighty with their metaphorical pens instead of swords.
Watergate was many things, but one of them was a triumph for the press. The press hated Nixon prior to Watergate, and in Watergate several elements came together: an actual wrongdoing with actual evidence of it by the president, an FBI informant with his own agenda, a GOP willing to take the high road and convince its own president to resign or be thrown out, and a public unjaded by all that’s happened since.
The press also became heroes, not only in their own eyes but generally. A movie was made in which Woodward was played by Robert Redford in his handsome prime, and Bernstein was played by the less-comely but still very popular Dustin Hoffman. Who could ask for anything more?
Only a few of today’s journalists were around back then (except as little children), but you better believe that Watergate was not lost on them nor was it lost on their professors at journalism school or school in general. The narrative was so compelling that I’m virtually certain that one of the main things that drove them in Russiagate was the desire for a repeat. They believed they had the ingredients, or at least the most important ingredients to them: a Republican president they hated, informants in the FBI and elsewhere, tales of secret machinations by the administration, and Republicans in Congress who they thought could be rather easily persuaded to turn on that president.
The fact that Russiagate was actually the un-Watergate probably did not even cross their minds. This was the reverse Watergate, the Watergate in which the president was not the perp, and the instruments of intelligence and justice were weaponized against him rather than that he made a blocked attempt to enlist them against his enemies. In the un-Watergate the press, instead of being able to successfully cast itself as the bold uncoverer of the terrible truth about the president, has been revealed to have been mainly in the business of amplifying lies about the president.
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Stick a fork in impeachment. It’s dead.
Victory doesn’t get any sweeter for the winners. Or more important for our country.
The results of the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller are a tremendous vindication for President Trump and the many millions of Americans who never doubted his innocence. The findings prove, once and for all time, that he won the 2016 election fair and square.
Let me repeat the point: It is now a fact beyond any doubt whatsoever that Donald Trump is the legitimate 45th president of the United States.
“Hail to the Chief,” this time with feeling.
The great news of that settled truth is not limited to Republicans and Trump supporters. Every American can take comfort in this historic reaffirmation of our nation as exceptional, as the shining city on the hill for all mankind.
Think of it this way: Yes, Russians tried to tip a presidential election, especially through hacking into email systems. They even tried to help Trump.
Yet Mueller, after conducting the most exhaustive test ever of election integrity, reached this stunning conclusion: “The Special Counsel did not find that any US person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with Russians “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
No American — not a single one — took the Russian bait. And that includes every member of the Trump campaign.
That is a fact worthy of celebration, for it shows our democracy is strong and our institutions uncompromised.
Other implications of the report’s findings are also enormous.
We now know that Hillary Clinton and her supporters misled the country in claiming that the White House was stolen from her. She started the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax and her claims, aided by the Obama White House and magnified by a thoroughly partisan media, set in motion a wild-goose chase.
The chase undermined a duly elected president and cost taxpayers more than $30 million for an investigation that proved the accusations were flat-out false.
Yet money alone is hardly the full price. The probe itself was a giant cloud over the presidency. Trump’s cabinet, his family, his aides and every policy he put forth were viewed with suspicion by those who bought Clinton’s Big Lie. Many of those people shelled out thousands of dollars for legal bills merely to answer questions and prove themselves innocent of any wrongdoing.
It is also a given that China, North Korea, Iran and, yes, Russia have factored into their relations with us the possibility that Trump might not be long for the Oval Office.
We will never know exactly what price America paid for that possibility, but you can be certain it was high, and that the ramifications will not instantly disappear.
Perhaps there would have been a trade deal with China by now. Perhaps North Korea would have scuttled its nukes if it knew Trump wasn’t going anywhere for at least four years.
Those are just some of the actual and potential consequences Clinton set in motion with her false claims. In a better world, or if she were a better person, she would apologize and publicly acknowledge Trump’s legitimacy. I won’t hold my breath.
But until she does, she should be shunned in public life. She has no credibility to speak on any issue or endorse any candidate. She has put the nation through hell all because she lost an election she should have won.
Let’s remember, too, that her campaign actually did work with Russians, through FusionGPS and British agent Christopher Steele, to create a fictional scenario about Trump being compromised.
Which brings us to today’s Democrats. They bought into Clinton’s Big Lie and built a house of cards on smoke and mirrors. The collapse is total.
If they had any sense, they, too, would accept the Mueller findings and get to work developing serious policy alternatives. Adopting the path of the resistance movement — no compromise, no negotiation — is no longer viable. It, too, is dead.
The long list of 2020 candidates are suddenly facing the fact that Mueller cannot help them. In fact, Trump is stronger and will be emboldened for having survived the gantlet.
Sadly, the first indication is that the party’s loudest huffers and puffers — Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters and assorted other odd ducks — will not accept that the world has changed.
They vow to contest the Mueller conclusion on collusion and cast doubt on the limited release of underlying documents. They also are already seizing on the fact that Mueller left it to Attorney General William Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to rule that there was no provable case for obstruction of justice as a reason to continue their jihad.
In fairness, that decision by Mueller is curious, and serves as an unfortunate invitation for mischief. But Barr and Rosenstein are on solid ground because, as they explain, in normal circumstances, there can be no obstruction of justice if there was no underlying crime.
They also lay out the high bar for proving obstruction charges, and conclude the evidence Mueller found could not meet that test.
Still, it is a free country and the Dems are welcome to pursue the pipe dreams that RussiaGate isn’t over. Their denial recalls those Japanese soldiers who hid out in island caves for 30 and 40 years after World War II, determined never to surrender.
The pledge by Schiff and others to try to destroy Trump with investigations sets them up to be a suicide caucus of their own.
It’s been clear for some time that, although most Americans trusted Mueller and wanted him to be able to finish, they were impatient it was taking too long. Now that he has spoken, fair-minded voters will welcome the end of the circus and embrace its findings as final. That’s what patriots do.
Yet as I wrote Sunday, the end of Mueller must not mean the end of investigating what happened in 2016. It was, after all, the Clinton-financed Russian dossier that formed the basis of the FBI investigation launched by the disgraced James Comey that summer.
How did that happen? How did a partisan dirty trick result in an FBI probe of the other party’s presidential candidate?
And how did so much classified information leak, including the names of Trump associates picked up incidentally on wiretaps? Who in the Obama White House broke the law?
These and other questions deserve at least as much scrutiny as Clinton’s false claims. As Trump said Sunday, “This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully, somebody’s going to be looking at the other side.”
Amen to that.