Profiles in Cowardice: Random Observations on the Mueller Hearings

Yesterday's congressional hearings with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed the profound cowardice at the heart of our nation's leaders right now in dealing with Donald Trump (himself a coward of the lowest order) and the crimes that he has so blatantly committed and continues to commit on a daily basis. Anyone who has actually read Mueller's report or paid attention during the hearing who doesn't believe that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and that Trump panicked and attempted to cover up any involvement would have to be a genuine fool or a willful idiot. The report says that Trump did so. It just doesn't say that he committed a crime, although it walks right up to that.

There was some hope that the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees would produce a crystallizing moment, a "gotcha," an absolutely clear statement of Trump and his circle's complicity in obstruction of justice. Democrats called the hearing ostensibly to disseminate the information in the report, but you know that they wanted Mueller to say that Trump should have been indicted but was blocked by Attorney General and the man who put the "toad" in toady, William Barr.

If that had happened, no one would be talking about Mueller's really painful, halting, obviously impaired appearance. But the cowardly media was not entertained and thus declared the day a failure. Jesus, no one should care about the verve with which revelations of our compromised electoral system were delivered. No one should care if the person telling us that the President induced people to lie about their involvement in compromising our electoral system is particularly charming. But we don't live in a country where plain facts matter anymore, and we don't have a media that is capable of explaining facts (yeah, yeah, there are exceptions).

That sky opening moment didn't happen. And, instead, we were treated to the display of Democrats trying to get as much of the report on record as possible, with Mueller agreeing that, yes, what he wrote in the report is what he wrote in the report, and that it is as enraging and worrisome as it ever was. There were a couple of important moments that may make fine ads, like Rep. Jerrold Nadler's direct, quick questioning that demonstrated just how much Trump is lying about the report. Adam Schiff's opening comments were brutal, as was his masterful dialogue with Mueller that was a distillation of just how much Russia helped Trump and how much Trump and his team welcomed that help and how really scary that all is.

Republicans on the committee were, with one, perhaps two, exceptions, a miserable bunch of cowardly bastards. Bowing down before their twin idols, Trump and the right-wing media machine, they regurgitated every rank conspiracy theory, vomiting up a litany of names and a series of lies about the origins of the investigation and the investigators themselves, all to create a viscous fog for their president's venality and immorality and criminality. From loathsome hick Louie Gohmert screeching like he got his penis stuck in the donkey he was fucking to bloated sack of farts James Sensenbrenner declaring Mueller's work a flaming sack of shit left on the government's porch to dimwitted Michael Turner bludgeoning the word "exonerate" to death. It was disgusting, watching asshole after asshole proclaim the innocence of Trump while trying, at least on some minor level, to pretend to give even a single fuck about Russia's interference in our elections. How low does a man or woman have to be to fear a nasty comment by Tucker Carlson? How quickly do they become traitors because they fear tweets that call for their ouster or deaths? What vermin they are and what worms are the people who elect them.

Despite all the tributes to his long career as GI Joe G-Man, Mueller came across as a coward, too. Simply put, there was no reason for him to hedge on what he believed. As Sarah Kendzior put it, "Throughout the hearings, Mr. Mueller acted as if outside forces constrained his ability to answer questions. But he is no longer an employee of the Department of Justice, and they can no longer tell him what to say." It made no sense, for instance, that he was so clearly incensed by the idea of Russia's attack on the 2016 election, yet he would not say, clearly, that Donald Trump is harming the country by dismissing that idea. That's pretty easy: Here is something that's broken. If you don't fix it, it will get worse. Therefore, if the person who is supposed to fix it doesn't, that person wants things to get worse. But he decided to limit himself and play the good Republican, the good conservative, one of the many useful idiots who think that the System still functions as it's supposed to. And just say, for chrissake, that anyone would have arrested Trump. All this coy implication was worthless. For someone who once stood up to rabid buffalo Dick Cheney, it was a dereliction of duty and a failure of nerve that will ultimately damage the nation.

Yet as strong as the Democrats in the committees were with their questioning - there was blissfully little speechifying - the press conference after the hearings demonstrated the cowardice that has plagued the party's leaders since Trump was elected. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi again squashed the idea that impeachment of Trump should move forward, she undid everything that the hearings might have done. Impeachment would force attention to be paid to what Trump has done and his failure to act on what was done to us. Now, they say, they want to wait until courts decide on whether or not Trump needs to give over documents or allow people to testify. C'mon.  It's as if Pelosi and others in the Democratic caucus, ignoring a growing faction of members who want impeachment, believe that Trump won't be re-elected and things can go back to whatever illusion of normal they think it was before. This is the Merrick Garland fallacy: don't get in the mud to fight it out because we're obviously gonna win the presidency. How did that turn out in 2016? Democrats are stating that Trump committed crimes. Hell, Nadler used the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" the other day. If you say that and refuse to impeach, then Republicans have nothing to fear from you and will keep owning the story with their lies.

As he revealed in his ranting, frothing moment with the press yesterday, Donald Trump is a danger to the nation, and he believes he is empowered to do more and more. That neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to stand up to him in the firmest, most obvious way available is the kind of cowardice that will damn us, and we'll deserve it.