So much hype, to so little effect.
DC’s reaction to Attorney General Bob Barr’s doctored summary of the Mueller report is annoyingly predictable. Republicans are joyfully declaring victory, based on the Barr spin that Mueller did not actually use the words “Trump is guilty, guilty, guilty." The media is breathlessly reporting everything anyone is saying about the subject, even though hardly anyone has read the actual report and most of what is being said is pure speculation. Meanwhile, too many Democrats are hanging their heads because they had imagined that the report would deliver a smoking gun, and that such a finding would make the 2020 election easy.
Democrats need to slow down and take a deep breath. A man as careful and methodical as Bob Mueller was never going to write a scathing report saying “guilty, guilty, guilty.” He was always going to write a balanced report using even-handed language about what was provable beyond reasonable doubt and what other concerns were raised that needed to be further investigated. That sounds like exactly what he did.
And, frankly, something I have been warning my fellow Democrats about for two years: Trump has done a brilliant job setting this moment up by screaming “no collusion” over and over again. Collusion with a bunch of Russian spies who are great at covering their tracks was always going to be extremely hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and setting ourselves up to think Mueller was going to deliver us a smoking gun was a mistake. In fact, as anyone who has ever done an Independent Expenditure operation in an election well knows, you don’t need to coordinate with a campaign to know how to help them win: you know what a campaign’s strategy is by watching their ads, seeing their ad buys, seeing their mail pieces, etc.
The Mueller report has been hyped beyond all measure. Yes, Democrats should demand that it gets released: every other special prosecutor’s report has been released in full, so it should be too. If we were able to read every disgusting detail of President’s Clinton’s sexual activity with Monica Lewinsky, we should be able to read everything Mueller has to say as well. It’s important to fully understand what Mueller’s conclusions were for ourselves, not get the spin from Trump’s lackey, Bob Barr. And there are lots of other investigations going on, some stemming from the Mueller work and some from other places. Especially with Trump now screaming from the rooftops that the Mueller report exonerated him, we should sure as hell be able to read the report for ourselves to see what it actually said.
But, folks, get real: Bob Mueller was never going to be the end of Trump. He was never going to save us. To defeat Trump, we have to actually defeat Trump. We have to point out all the hundreds of ways that Trump and his administration are corrupted by big money cronyism. We have to figure out a social media strategy to counter the Republican dominance in that increasingly important arena. We still have to build a grassroots army to turn out our base and talk to swing voters. We have to talk about what Democrats are actually going to do to make people’s lives better, and how Republican policies are a disaster for working families.
Washington, DC is a dumb place most of the time, and this inside-the-beltway obsession with Robert Mueller been an example of that truism. Democrats have played into the stupidity by letting themselves believe that the Mueller report would be the definitive nail in Trump’s coffin. Now we need to go back for what worked for us in the 2018: let’s talk about issues that matter to real voters like health care and education and jobs and wages.
There are two bits of good news in this shit storm. The first is that the Republicans are so excited about their president not being proclaimed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of treasonous crimes (seems like a low bar for such exultation) that they are forgetting, just like we did when we were so hopeful, that real voters out in America don’t care very much about the Russia/Trump story. The other good news is that now maybe Democrats will remember what worked in 2018 that they still need to defeat Trump the old-fashioned way: by convincing voters to vote for them on the issues.