It's an ill wind that blows no good at all. Take the Mueller Report, one of history's great anticlimaxes (though Brexit is the mother of them all: "I am an Indian," tweeted one observer, "and I can tell you that Brits take forever to leave"). But think of Mueller's nonbarrage from the POV of Trump devotees.
The New York Times, bless their investigative hearts, found a pro-Trumper in Houston who "took a bottle of Russian vodka and poultry to a dinner party" of his liberal, Trump-hating friends. (The chicken was in lieu of crow, which already speaks well for his fellowfeelingness.). "I get one day where I can gloat about it, and you all get upset," he sighed.
I don't begrudge it. He's had to endure the U.S. mainstream media's boundless effervescing over Mueller. Perhaps he clung to Fox but even they're now wavering. He gets a small respite. He doesn't sound like he’s in it for racism or misogyny. There can be other sources.
Nor do I think we're entirely responsible for all our identifications. Humans are identifiers, we can't help it. There aren't always clear reasons, or reasons at all. It can be the Leafs or Trump. At bottom, I think we identify with people or causes because as individuals, we're so underwhelming. Limited, puny bodies. Brief, precarious lifespans.
We want to feel part of something larger and in the existential pinch it might not matter what. The largerness is decisive. The smartest, most "progressive" person I ever knew, said, "Any of us could have been anything." Once we identify -- for whatever reasons -- it's hell to shake. Trump learned that. He can do anything, at least so far, and they hang in.
Then, from the reverse POV, there's the just comeuppance for those who lionized Mueller. Didn't they know not to put their trust in prosecutors and cops? The CIA missed the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which was merely their raison d'être. The FBI had 9/11 handed to them on a platter but blew it, then tried ignoring the failure. Talk about coverups.
Mueller himself, as FBI boss in the W years, testified that "Baghdad has failed to disarm" its WMDs -- a lie leading to the Iraq catastrophe, which qualifies as the major war crime of this century. He said the secret U.S. program to spy on its citizens "complied with U.S. law and basic rights" and he'd take “necessary steps to hold Edward Snowden responsible” for exposing it. He oversaw Muslim detentions and was involved in "rendering" Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian, to over a year of Syrian torture.
And what if Mueller had delivered the anticipated fatal blow to Trump, leading to impeachment? It would've validated the Democratic establishment strategy of stoking the anti-Russia hysteria of yesteryear, along with U.S. military buildups and foreign invasions. It would've led to a Biden presidency.
So? Would that be worse than Trump? No, it's more insidious than that. The trouble with mainstream Libs and Dems like Bill, Hillary, Obama or Biden, isn't that they’re as bad as Trump. It's that the damage they do and the hopes they destroy lead almost inevitably to a W or Trump. And so on, despairingly, to the next demolisher of hope. Will no one rid us of this meddlesome cycle?
This may be the final boon of Mueller's non-bomb. The wealth-aligned control freaks who dominate the Democratic party are experiencing a unique grassroots challenge. They can barely believe it and, I humbly confess, I’m shocked too.
It amounts to a left populist upsurge. It’s what über-neocon Steve Bannon calls the only political battle that matters today: left vs. right populism. It began before Trump, with Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign. It may now be fuelled by anti-Trumpism, but has no interest in Russian conspiracies.
For reasons more to do with human tenacity and idealism than political sagacity, young, often female, minority people in the U.S. are determined to remake the party.
The ability to be surprised is one thing that can keep us going in dispiriting times. Mueller may have made his contribution to the cause.
This column was originally published in the Toronto Star.
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