Washington DC goes Mueller crazy today, again. The US networks begin rolling coverage with their morning shows. The Mueller report was Mueller, the book. This is Mueller, the movie. Will the special counsel light the fuse for impeachment, as many hope?

Given that this is the question of the day, a remarkable rumor is circulating among some Democrats. This is – in the words of one source – that Mueller is ‘slowly losing his faculties’, that at the age of 74, the former special counsel is going senile. The source went on to say that this was one reason why Mueller had been ‘so intent’ on limiting the time and scope of the hearings today.

This particular source was a senior official in the last presidential administration and maintains good lines of communication into the DoJ. Democrats had a slightly different version of this rumor when Mueller handed in his report to the attorney general, William Barr. Then, they were saying that the White House would brief that Mueller had dementia, spinning a lie in order to undermine what the administration fully expected would be a brutal report damning the president as a traitor.

Now that Mueller’s report is not what they wanted, these same Democrats are starting to believe that ‘lie’. It is tempting to see a psychological explanation for this.

For two years, President Trump’s critics viewed Mueller as a kind of superman, cape fluttering in the wind, who would destroy the Trump presidency with a mighty blow from a righteous fist. When Mueller said he could not prove – or ‘establish’ – that collusion had taken place, there was puzzlement and disappointment. He had not even tried to subpoena the President. He must have lost his mind.

The late request for Mueller to have a second by his side, his deputy, Aaron Zebley, has only turned up the heat under this simmering pot. One Democrat said it was ‘amazing’ that he had asked an aide to join him as a witness. President Trump himself agreed, tweeting that Zebley’s appearance was ‘a disgrace’. ‘VERY UNFAIR, SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. A rigged Witch Hunt!’

Perhaps, if the Mueller-Zebley combination is effective, Republicans will take up the dementia rumor again. It is already happening, to some extent. Under the tasteful headline, ‘Mueller needs his head examined’, the Aspen Times prints a letter from a correspondent who says that Mueller showed signed of dementia when he read a statement to reporters in May. He ‘repeatedly had difficultly pronouncing the words in the statement and often spoke haltingly. He didn’t seem to be familiar with the material even though he claimed he wrote it.’ 

There is a long tradition in American politics of accusing your opponents of senility. People have said this about President Trump, and also his legal spokesman, Rudy Giuliani. Cockburn can’t help but wonder if the real madness is in us all.