Opinionista Steven Boykey Sidley 26 March 2019

Of Untethered Monsters and Vanquished Accusers

Donald Trump has been investigated and found not guilty of collusion and we must accept that as the way it is.

I have spent considerable energy over the past few decades arguing that the US is a force for good, and is, on the whole (and with occasional lapses), a country built on robust and fair governance structures that have worked well for the majority of its citizens most of the time. The release of the Mueller Report strengthens that conviction.

I lived there for nearly two decades and watched this fairness principle in close action. I was astonished at the average American’s loud and active resistance to government malfeasance at national, state and local levels, which resulted in the ejection of President Nixon and all the way down the line to the conviction and jailing of lesser tax cheaters and crooked officials over decades by an efficient and stern judicial system.

Basically, America seemed to me, from my perch in Los Angeles, to be a place of law – break them and no matter who you are, the forces of justice will come for you.

And so – President Trump. A shallow and vicious and ignorant man, used to skating on legal thin ice his entire business life, gets exhaustively investigated for collusion and is found not guilty. The system worked, the investigators must be trusted, and we must accept that as the way it is. The collusion believers – who ranged across the leftish political and media spectrum – now must eat bitter humble pie (as must the pro-Trump shriekers who insisted on a deep state conspiracy within the FBI).

Sure, there were things that were not investigated, or not fully judged –obstruction, tax fraud, campaign finance violations and the like. That is for others to pursue, as they surely will.

But Trump has walked away with a victory that is large and consequential. The Democrats must now be in disarray – all anti-Trump action or even rhetoric will now be seen as suspect. The New York Times and other left-leaning outlets are certainly damaged – the energy with which they pursued the collusion line must now be viewed through the lens of undue partisanship. Trump will no doubt forge ahead with the sort of vengeance that one can only imagine in a man as amoral as he. If he was unbound in thought and action before, he will be more than that – unbound, angry, loud, determined and victim-seeking.

One can argue long and hard (and it has already started) that there was collusion, it just couldn’t be proved. Or that the definition of collusion was too narrow. I am sorry, that is not how it works. It is too late for that, particularly given the near-adulation shown to Mueller and his investigating team over the last 18 months by the anti-Trump brigades.

The shock and anger on display in social media today is understandable. This is truly an awful man, perhaps the most unqualified and dishonest president in US history. We (or at least many of us) wanted him to get his comeuppance. We had naively hoped that Mueller would shoot many equally wounding silver bullets. But Mueller had one gun and one shot, and he was unable to find the target, after tens of millions of dollars of looking, so he kept it holstered and stayed within his remit.

So now what? The other 17 investigations are ongoing; they will have a much more difficult time, I suspect, at least in the sphere of public opinion. The right-wing, and particularly the nasty edges of the right wing, will not only be emboldened but will raise their sensitive conspiracy antennas on any and all accusations against their man.

And the chances of a second term just increased dramatically. DM


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