}

Thursday, July 25, 2019

About that testimony

Today (last night NZ time) Robert Mueller testified before the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives. One thing he made abundantly clear is that his report absolutely DID NOT “exonerate” the current occupant of the White House, as he and his sycophantic lackeys have been claiming for months. The reality is, however, that his testimony changes absolutely nothing—the political divisions in the USA are too deep and unbridgeable. The testimony was a mere restatement of facts for the record, ones that have already been firmly embraced by one side, and utterly rejected by the other. And yet, there's still hope for the USA—in the long term.

Veteran journalist Dan Rather talked about this in a post on Facebook:
The report does not exonerate the president. Of course it doesn’t. And Robert Mueller made that clear in a headline answer early in his testimony today. Could the president be charged with a crime after he left office? Once again, the answer from Mueller was yes. Did lies from the Trump administration officials impede the investigation? Another yes from Mueller.

But for all who hoped for a grand theatrical moment that crystallized and unified a nation against the outrages of this president, I don’t think any such moment occurred. And probably none should have been expected. We are a deeply divided nation where millions support and normalize the actions of a reckless president.
He elaborated on that in a follow-up post a few hours later:
We will have a battle of headlines, hot takes and hot air. We will have polls and politics. We will have the schisms plaguing American democracy plunge deeper. I fear little said today will, at least in the short term, provide any balm to our national struggles.

But this was historic. It confirmed what we already should have known. America was attacked by a hostile foreign power. That attack was welcomed and benefited a candidate for president. And that president lied about that attack and minimized it. His enablers and confederates have played along. Many of his aides have pled guilty to lying about their foreign contacts. This is un-American at its core.

That should be enough for bipartisan outrage. Whether we move towards impeachment will be the calculation of House leadership. But we saw in the questioning this afternoon a lot of tap dancing from Republicans eager to not infuriate their president but also not wishing to seem to countenance this type of foreign attack.

In all the smoke, in all the outrage, in all the posturing, we cannot forget the core truth. In between the lines of Mueller’s testimony we see his determination that the risk to our democratic ideals and function is deep and remains very present today. He has performed his service. How he performed that will be for others to judge. But the action now lies with Congress. How they respond, how we respond, will determine the verdict of history.
Rather summed up my initial reaction to the testimony, at least from what I saw in the headline reports (because it happened while I was asleep, I haven’t yet had a chance to read or watch any of the actual testimony). But from those headline/highlight reports, there was at least a confirmation of what we expected would happen: Not much.

We all knew that the current regime was trying to spin the report when it was submitted, something many of us (including me) picked up on immediately (I commented when Barr’s propagandistic “summary” was first released, and then I expanded on that subject the next day) . When the redacted version of the report was finally released, it was clear and obvious that Barr had completely mischaracterised its contents, a reality that was underscored by Mueller’s testimony.

All of which means that the testimony delivered what should have been, and mostly was, expected. It changes nothing because the USA is so deeply divided. In fact, the only thing that will immediately result from it will be yet more unhinged Twitter Tantrums from the current occupant of the White House, as per usual. Those tirades will, as always, tell us much about the current occupant’s (utter lack of) character, but nothing that’s actually useful or informative, as per usual.

The current occupant’s fervent frothing fans will froth and ferment, declaring it’s all lies, lies!, they’ll declare. Nothing could ever shake their certainty that their Dear Leader is the bestest mostest goodest president ever. In November of next year, they will vote in large numbers.

Opponents of the current regime will similarly default to form, calling the current occupant an affront to democracy, the US Constitution, and the rule of law. They’ll talk about how he must be “held accountable”, by which they will usually mean impeachment. Few will volunteer for or donate to candidates to help defeat the current occupant, and many will “forget” to vote next year.

Republican politicians will continue to march in lock-step with their Dear Leader because it’s entirely, 100% his party now. They’ll do absolutely nothing whatsoever to hold him in any way even slightly accountable for anything. It is their way. They can’t even call out his “mild” bad behaviour, much less the man’s obvious crimes.

Democratic politicians will also talk about how the current occupant must be “held accountable” without ever actually doing much of anything to make that happen. Many of them will say that’s based on realism: Republican politicians, who have no conscience, will never hold their Dear Leader accountable, or maybe it’s because too many among the supposedly winnable soft supporters of the current occupant would be turned off by Democrats standing up for the US Constitution and the rule of law. In either case, they’ll talk a good story, but little else.

Meanwhile, the republic is in mortal danger, and a corrupt, criminal, egomaniacal madmen is poised to destroy it all—aided and abetted by the Republican Party, and ineffectively opposed by the Democratic Party. The rest of us are being crushed in a strong metal vice that we can do little about—except for one thing: Voting.

Mueller’s report, as underscored by his testimony, clearly lays out why action against the current occupant is so vital and urgent. If politicians, for whatever reason, won’t do it, we need to do it for them at the ballot box in November 2020.

The saviour of the United States was never going to be Mueller, and it obviously won’t be elected politicians. It turns out that, armed with the truth and facts, including what was in the Mueller Report, the citizens of the USA alone are the last, best hope for saving the republic.

Will they?

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