The Mueller report is dead; long live the Mueller report. The political battle over Mueller’s inquiry is over, but the war continues. There can be no doubt who the winner of this round is. Donald Trump repeatedly called Mueller’s inquiry a ‘witch hunt’, an attempt to annul the electoral victory he won fair and square in 2016. On that much, Trump is vindicated. Not that this will make too much difference.
For the last two years, Democrats have universally praised Robert Mueller as an honest and conscientious servant of the republic. Most of the media, blatantly biased towards the Democrats, has insisted that Mueller would validate their fantasy that Trump had cheated Hillary Clinton of the 2016 election through ‘collusion’ between Trump and Vladimir Putin, and between the Trump campaign and Putin’s agents. Yet Mueller has ended his inquiry without charging, indicting or convicting a single American for conspiring with Russian agents to sway the 2016 vote.
For two years, a conspiracy theory was advanced not just by trashy cable networks like CNN and MSNBC, but also by once respected papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. If, like me, you were living in a Democrat-voting coastal city, you became used to hearing educated, worldly adults, and even college professors too, telling you that Trump was in Putin’s pocket because Putin had a ‘pee tape’ of Trump receiving a micturant dousing from prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. This perverse fantasy was nothing more than ‘Pizzagate’ for liberals.
The media’s role in fanning this partisan delusion has caused incalculable damage to American democracy. If a free press is essential to the function of a democratic society, what hope is there for democracy when a dysfunctional press is worth nothing at all? A responsible media would pause for a reckoning at the revelation that it has succumbed to a collective delusion, and sought to use its massive influence to inculcate a mass delusion among voters. But then, a responsible media would have examined the blatantly dubious provenance of the Steele Dossier, instead of taking it as fact because it suited their prejudices.
The harmful effects of the Democrats’ retreat into fantasy are already visible. In the Clinton and Obama years, the Democrats had a lock on reliability. They were managerial, rational and logical, with Obama as the quintessence of technocratic pedantry. It was the Republicans who were on a flight from reality, with no fantasy too stupid to be believed. Since 2016, however, it’s the Democrats who have lost their mental moorings, and the Republicans who, realizing they must sink or swim with Trump, have been the reality-based community.
After 2016, the Democrats might have done themselves and us a service by reflecting on the simple truths that explain Trump’s victory — notably Hillary Clinton’s arrogantly weak campaign and transparently false manner. Instead, Democrats have preserved their illusions about the arc of history by retreating into a malign fantasy of power, in which hidden and alien hands have bent that arc to the right. This has weakened the Democrats’ resistance to further malign fantasies. The result is a base gripped by terrors of environmental apocalypse and anti-Semitism, and enchanted by mad and insupportably expensive power grabs like the Green New Deal.
People in the grip of reality-denying fantasies will go to any length to avoid a rough awakening. Within minutes of Mueller filing his report, Democrats were calling for the full publicizing of its contents — as if Mueller has encrypted in his report an indictment against Trump, which only those with magic vision can piece together in the correct order. The truth, as usual, is simpler and pettier.
The Russians sought to spread confusion and bitterness in the 2016 elections, just as they have sought to do so in elections all over the West in recent years. But they surely never expected their meddling in 2016 to succeed so spectacularly. The Democrats have acted as Putin’s unwitting agents, by attempting to discredit the election, and with it the American system. As Hillary Clinton’s recent and absurd claim that she was robbed of rightful victory showed, and as this week’s calls for dismantling the Electoral College showed again, the Democrats are still doing it.
Trump’s actions against Russia in the last two years — the biggest expulsion of spies since the end for the Cold War, the forging of alliances against Russian influence in the Middle East — are hardly those of a president in thrall to Russian kompromat. This is mere reality. The Democrats want to destroy Trump, so they believe he must be guilty of something. And he probably is.
Trump is a businessman of many irregularities. Some of them involve the Trump Organization’s dealings with oligarchs from energy-rich ex-Soviet states. Some of them may come to light in the Southern District of New York. As Cockburn relates, it’s possible that Mueller may already have handed off sealed indictments to other elements in the Justice Department. But the quantity and quality of evidence will remain secondary, at least while Trump remains president.
Some House Democrats want to impeach Trump because they despise him. The absence of indictments in Mueller’s report makes it easier for Senate Republicans to defend Trump. Neither will get enough of what they want from Mueller’s report, but both will get enough of what they need. The war goes on.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA.