It was Christmas again this week and all the Democrats got in their stockings were two or three lumps of coal. Or maybe it wasn’t Christmas, but Groundhog Day.
The earlier summary of Robert Mueller’s findings was only a summary, after all, and everyone knew the actual report had all the good stuff. Mr. Mueller wouldn’t let us down.
Ah, but he did. Great expectations dashed again. The Democrats, but for the dwindling number of grown-ups in the party of Jefferson, Jackson, Harry S. Truman and FDR, were so sure that Mr. Mueller would deliver the goods they had conferred sainthood on him, much like the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama before he assumed office. Now some Democrats are looking for rope to deal with the special counsel, unless that other mob, the one still in pursuit of the president, has cornered the supply of hemp on their march to the hanging tree.
William Barr on Thursday had barely concluded his introduction to Mr. Mueller’s eagerly awaited report before the two dozen Democrats running for president lined up for a turn as denouncer in chief. Pocahontas said Mr. Barr had “disgraced” the profession of politics for acting as “the personal attorney and publicist” for the president. Kirsten Gillibrand, not trusting her message to the twitterworks, called a press conference to denounce the attorney general’s early morning press conference as “a farce and an embarrassing display of propaganda” for the president.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said “the American people deserve the truth, not spin from a Trump appointee.” Sen. Kamala Harris of California said Mr. Barr’s press conference “was a stunt, filled with political spin.” David Axelrod, who managed two presidential campaigns for Barack Obama and a man who ought to recognize spin when he sees it, said the Mueller report “provides a conundrum for Congress by virtually inviting an impeachment probe around the obstruction issue.”
The media wiseheads, who haven’t learned much over the years of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, were astonished anew at how ignorant everyone else is. Carl Bernstein, still trying to understand what happened to his Watergate fame, insists that clear evidence of the president’s high crimes and misdemeanors is right there in the Mueller report but only smart, sophisticated people like himself can see it.
“It’s here in substance,” he said, “in nuance, in context and it is there for all people of good will in this country, if they are not so dug in politically or ideologically to process information and make some sophisticated judgments about the behavior of everybody I’ve mentioned here.”
Chris Cuomo of CNN says there’s “a ton” of collusion in the Mueller report and everyone with “a dose of shame” should read it. Mr. Cuomo thinks Mr. Mueller discovered “clever, secretive behavior” and delivered it by the ton and he “lays it all out” once you break the code. This is odd, because Mr. Mueller has a reputation for writing with the clarity cherished by the courts.
Hollywood woke up early Thursday and when everyone read the news that Mr. Mueller had failed again, the mass meltdown of the twinkies was on. Nearly everyone anyone had heard of and bit players, extras and faces in the crowd recognized the end of the world lurking just over the blue horizon. There was unanimous agreement that the time for gathering evidence was over, and it was time to get on with the hanging. What was winning the House of Representatives about if not to act swiftly? Hadn’t Nancy Pelosi herself said she was the constitutional equal of the president? Wasn’t she one of the three branches of government she had heard about in high school?
One of the rare cool heads doomed to get no respect tried to tug everyone back to reality, a destination that few Hollywood Democrats would recognize. “Based on what we have seen to date,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the leader of the Democratic majority in the House, “going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.”
But that’s so 20th century and besides, caution is not a popular sentiment with a mob, and Mr. Hoyer can expect rough treatment for truth-telling. Nothing is more dangerous than a mob with a length of rope and no one to use it on.
There’s something terrifying about the reaction to the Mueller findings. What if, as some senior Democrats are saying, the president might win a second term after all? Then what? Not even calling out the National Guard could deal with the liberal hysteria. “Bring it on,” says one twitterhead, “we’re ready and they can’t even figure out which bathroom to use.”
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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