Saturday, March 23, 2019


We don't know what's in the Mueller report, but we know Robert Mueller is through indicting people -- if you had a Donald Junior perp walk in the office pool, sorry, you don't get to collect your winnings. Right-wingers are already claiming vindication, while liberals and the non-conservative media assert that President Trump's legal woes are just beginning, what with all those other investigations going on.

You may have noticed that I don't write very much about Russiagate or Mueller. Partly that's because I don't have the deep mastery of the subject that, say, Yastreblyansky does. But I also don't believe in saviors. I don't believe that bad political circumstances get resolved when heroes ride to the rescue, smiting wrongdoers and setting everything to rights.

In the Bush years, a lot of smart people believed that Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Plamegate would would sink the president. I remember meeting a high school classmate of my wife, now older and radicalized, who talked about the Fitzgerald investigation and said of Bush, "He's going down!" A much more popular blog than mine, Firedoglake, encouraged its readers every day to wait eagerly for "Fitzmas."

Fitzmas was a flop. The Mueller investigation has been more fruitful -- but in both cases the outcome has been the same: No one vital to the administration, or personally close to the president, has been brought down. Claims by supporters that the president is untouched by the scandal don't sound insane.

Watergate spoiled us. No scandal has worked the way Watergate worked in the years since, and for the foreseeable future nothing will. We certainly won't bring a Republican president down the way we did then -- whoever said that Nixon would have survived if Fox News had been around during Watergate was absolutely right. Also, remember that Watergate happened in what was effectively still the '60s era. We live in the apparently endless Reagan and post-Reagan era. Sacred cows aren't slain. Masters of the universe -- Jamie Dimon, Jeffrey Epstein, Robert Kraft, even Michael Jackson -- don't go to jail. They're better at defending themselves, and they're more ruthless -- plus, we don't like to jail the men at the top. Which is why I believe that no Trump or Kushner will ever spend a day in jail.

Prosecutors and investigators won't save us -- no, not the Southern District or the New York State attorney general, and not Jerry Nadler or Adam Schiff. They'll try, and they might draw blood, but we can't count on them for a deus ex machina.

We have to save ouselves.

Now, I also don't believe in savior politicians. Barack Obama didn't save us, and we won't be saved by Bernie or Beto or Kamala or even Mayor Pete. We do have to elect the Democratic nominee in 2020, but after that we have to fight on issues as if we haven't accomplished anything by electing the Democrat, because on many issues the system just wants to revert to the mean, and the mean is plutocratic conservatism. (It's not as bad as full-blown Republican conservatism, but it still needs to be fought.)

We have to save ouselves at the ballot box and in our congressmembers' in-boxes, we have to demonstrate when necessary, and we have to keep repeating this exhausting process until we've actually turned the damn battleship a few inches. I'm 60 now and I'm not sure I'll live to see change for the better, and I say that knowing my mother lived to the age of 90 and I might, too.

A few prosecutors won't save us. Committee subpoenas won't save us. Rachel Maddow and Emptywheel won't save us. A new president will only do a tiny amount of saving. We need to beat Trump -- he won't be driven from office any other way. But that's only a small part of the work we need to do.

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