Let the Mueller Farce End

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Let the Mueller Farce End

Let the Mueller farce end. He was called. He came. He went. Nothing new was learned. The New York Times:

In seven hours of highly anticipated back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Mr. Mueller, the special counsel who led the probe into Russia’s interference and whether Trump associates participated in it, hewed tightly to his script — the 448-page report he and his team produced in April. He declined repeatedly to offer his opinion on key questions or even to read directly from the voluminous document.

What we knew before, we know now:

Democrats did get him to confirm the most damaging elements of his findings. Under intense questioning, Mr. Mueller said the president had not been cleared of obstructing justice, nor had he been completely exonerated, as Mr. Trump has so often declared; he said that the president had been untruthful in some of his under-oath responses during the probe; and he called Mr. Trump’s encouragement of WikiLeaks “problematic,” to say the least.

None of this was any of this a surprise. Robert Mueller told the world several weeks back that he preferred not to testify. He also informed us that if he was asked to speak, he wouldn’t go beyond the report, full stop. And, wonder of wonders, that is exactly what happened.

The man was diminished by his participation. As Eliana Johnson and Melanie Zanona wrote:

Mueller, whose steely reputation has cast a long shadow over the Trump’s tenure, proved — at least in the early offing — a less formidable witness in the flesh than Democrats had hoped, offering up clipped, monosyllabic responses and repeatedly asking lawmakers to repeat their questions. Watching from the White House, at least one Trump aide said the former FBI director, who spent some 22 months investigating the president, simply seemed past his prime and incapable of doing Trump much harm.

Twitter latched onto this exchange:

This reaction was typical:

And this:

And:

Do I need to go on?

“The press.” “Consequential.” “Damning indictment.” “Frame this story.” “Would have been enough.”

How can I put this gently? None of this matters.

We live in the Upside Down now. Nobody in mainstream commentary understands: the norms do not exist. To think otherwise is to live in delusion.

Can anything be clearer? We had Trump bragging about being a sexual predator right before he was elected. How do so many pundits miss the point so bad?

I don't want to be ageist. But most of the people saying these things grew up in a very different time. They're from an era when A always equaled A.

This is how Rather, Jolly, and Nichols think the world works:

Get a college degree —> You get a good job.
Be born in America —> You will have a better life than your parents did.
Be a gross New York billionaire —> You never become President.
Important Policeman says you did something wrong —> You go to jail.
Press says something is true —> Everyone agrees it's true.
Say you're socialist —> Get exiled to the margins of politics.
Important Republican does something shameful —> Republicans feel shame.

Which one of these is true now? Here's a hint: none! Those arrows do not function. Cause and effect are broken. America does not work that way now. The norms are gone.

In the beginning, the Mueller fantasy was simple. According to the script, after months of labor, Dad Mueller was going to waltz in like Tuxedo Mask. He would deliver an irrefutable, perfect, convincing case for impeachment. This case—which would contain evidence never before seen or leaked—would do the job. It would provide universal and perfect cover for the House Democrats. It would be beyond criticism. The tongues of Fox News would fall silent. Indeed, the case would be so peerless, so airtight, that even the Republicans would turn on their Emperor. Order would be restored in the shining city. That was the plan.

It did not happen.
It is not happening.
It will not happen.

Surely reason can tell us this much. So why, why, why is the Mueller game still going on?

Because it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday, as Philly's greatest all-male R&B group once said. The Sixties mythology of a noble prince on horseback—of Jack Kennedy riding in to rescue us—dies hard.

The longer we pin our hopes to Mueller, the more we forget our own responsibilities. Mueller represents the hope that the old norms will still save us. We're acting as if we could fix the Trump problem by asking to speak to The Manager. Mueller is not The Manager. There's no Manager, folks. Hoping the Mueller Report will eventually remove our grotesque President is like writing yourself a check for a million dollars, cashing it, and waiting for the profits to roll in. Shuffling around forms is not going to save the world. It is our job to remove Trump. We must move this mountain ourselves.

Mueller-loving friends: Good people, what proof do you need that 2016 happened? What will convince you? Will Trump's re-election do it? Will Pelosi's continuing failure to impeach do it? Will this do it?

What will do it? I’m being serious here.

I get it. I really, really do. The world seemed to make so much more sense before. Pinning our hopes on Mueller is better than admitting the plain truth. Our beloved Republic, the Republic that elected Trump, is broken. The institutions that were supposed to check this delusional man-child are broken. They are broken in their design. They are broken in their practice. The checks on the executive are broken by shamelessness: the Republicans cannot be embarrassed into stopping Trump. The checks on the executive are limited by the timidity of the House Democratic leadership: Pelosi will not impeach. The machine Robert Mueller is part of does not work.

Mueller is the joke that doesn’t end. He’s the belief that the old order will snap back. This is the Tupac-is-alive school of politics. The system will not save us, and that is the only Mueller report that matters.

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