When Senators Chris Coons and Jeff Flake introduced a measure yesterday in the Senate to provide legal protection for the Mueller investigation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped in to block it– just as he has done previously in the months since it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bi-partisan support.
McConnell did so with a statement that we’ve heard from him before: that he sees no reason to think that the Mueller investigation is in danger of being killed off by President Trump, and therefore passing such protections is unnecessary.
Setting aside the utter stupidity of the premise of that statement — that there’s no threat from Trump, after we know that he wanted to fire Mueller twice already, and after we’ve also seen the (attempted?) installation of his hack Matt Whitaker as Acting Attorney General — we must marvel at the stupidity of McConnell’s conclusion: that there’s no reason to allow a Mueller-protecting measure to get a vote on the Senate floor because McConnell judges the measure to be superfluous.
The stupidity of that conclusion should be readily apparent: there’s no harm in passing something that turns out to be unnecessary. It costs nothing. On the other hand, not having such protections — if it turns out that they were needed — would be very costly. (And McConnell has said publicly that he believes that the Mueller investigation should be allowed to proceed unmolested to its conclusion.)
By McConnell’s logic, one would drive around without a spare tire if one saw no sign that any of the four wheels was going flat. But of course, no one thinks in that stupid way. Everyone realizes that what’s important is that if a tire goes flat, one doesn’t want to be stranded, which means that prudence dictates that one always drive with the extra weight of the back-up tire.
Any reasonable observer of McConnell over the years knows that the man may be evil, but he himself is not stupid. So we must conclude that McConnell here is not displaying his own stupidity, but rather is showing his reliance on the stupidity of others to allow him to get away with what he’s really doing and his real reasons for doing it.
(I must say at this point that I have not heard anyone — among the Senators, or in the media — come back at McConnell with that obvious rejoinder to expose that his statement makes no sense even if the premise — seeing no threat to Mueller — were valid. I wonder why that is.)
But then the question arises: What are McConnell’s real reasons for his refusal to allow the Senate to protect Mueller?
And here I must reconsider my own statement above about McConnell, that “he himself is not stupid.”
Is there any smart reason for McConnell to be protecting Trump?
Several times since the beginning of this year, I have written to express my bewilderment at the choice of the Republicans in Congress to align themselves with Trump even to the point of becoming his accomplices.
I get it that they don’t want to be seen by their Republican base as aiding in Trump’s destruction: these Republicans depend for their power on a set of voters that overwhelmingly supports Trump.
But — as I’ve asked more than once — wouldn’t they be better off standing aside and leaving Trump to his fate, rather than choosing the path they’ve chosen: to become Trump’s protectors and accomplices in the obstruction of justice?
I’ve pondered this question on an ongoing basis, and the choice the Republicans — including Mitch McConnell — made still looks to me like a colossal blunder, an “unforced error.”
And hasn’t the stupidity of their choice become clear in the light of the returns from the 2018 mid-term elections? In the one part of these elections that constituted a national referendum — the voting for the 435 seats in the House of Representatives across every part of the United States — the Republicans have suffered a rout on a historic scale.
They’ve lost upwards of 40 seats, they’ve alienated traditional parts of the Republican base (educated whites in the suburbs), they’ve mobilized the young, the Hispanics, the African-Americans to become politically active against them, etc.
And most of the interpretations of that result focus on how Trump has dragged the Republicans down.
Don’t the results of this Blue Wave election demonstrate that it is stupid for the Republicans to tie themselves so closely to a President who is not only disapproved by a majority of Americans, but is “strongly” disapproved by more than 40% of the whole American electorate?
Doesn’t that show that the GOP would have been –and likely still would be — better off standing aside and leaving Trump to his fate?
Yet here is Mitch McConnell, yesterday, once again playing the role of Trump’s protector.
Since the man who successfully stole a Supreme Court seat has shown that he’s capable of thinking strategically, that choice remains puzzling. If not stupid, then what?
I’m tempted to go back to a line from Euripides that I quoted once before when pondering the Republicans’ choice to tie themselves so closely to the sinking Trumpian ship:
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
If so, I must say: the gods couldn’t have picked a better bunch of guys to destroy.