Politics & Policy

The Mueller Report Exposes the Absurdity of the Governing Class

President Trump waves in Minneapolis, Minn., April 15, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Despite decades of egregious errors, a group of “leaders” remains steadfastly in place, waiting to take charge again.

The release of the Mueller report this week was a revelatory moment for me. I realized that, some time ago apparently, I crossed a political Mendoza line, where I am now more disgusted by Donald Trump’s opponents than I am by Trump himself.

This is no insignificant development for me. Regular readers of mine will recall that, just three years ago, I was calling on the delegates to the Republican National Convention to deny Trump the GOP nomination, arguing not only that it was prudent but also well within their rights. That feels like an eternity ago to me.

It was not the Mueller report per se that moved me, but rather its organization into two parts­ — the investigation into possible collusion with the Russians and the investigation into obstruction of justice — that was like a light bulb going off in my head.

Let’s start with the obstruction of justice. I do not think what Trump did was criminal or meriting impeachment. I do think it demonstrates that he is a nincompoop whose tendency to shoot from the hip has done more damage to his public standing than his political opponents ever could.

Put yourself in Trump’s shoes in January 2017. You know that you did not collude with Russia. You also know that high-level officials in the government think you did, pushing some bogus document in close conjunction with the mainstream press. The obvious inference about these people is either that they are credulous morons who will believe any silly claim or that they’re vicious partisans who want to end your administration before it begins. Either way, your objective must be twofold: Exonerate yourself in a manifestly credible investigation while relentlessly cleaning house at the Department of Justice. Virtually everything Trump did in those early days was counterproductive to those objectives. It made him look guilty and no doubt entrenched anti-Trump sentiment within the Department of Justice and the intelligence community. Ultimately, it forced the president’s lawyers to provide Mueller with virtually unlimited access, which revealed to the world what a boob he had been all along.

Pretty bad stuff. But the good news is that Trump is running for reelection in 2020 — so the voters can remove him if they so choose. And if he manages to win, there is no getting around the 22nd Amendment. In other words, there will be in relatively short order a date when Trump is no longer in power. And in the meantime, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will be busy at work filling judicial nominations, to prevent the progressive Left from stealing our rights or enacting through the courts the agenda that cannot succeed at the ballot box.

Now let’s think about part one of the Mueller report: the finding of no collusion. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. It was all a hoax — paid in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign. And yet . . . and yet! A vast concatenation of journalists, public officials, and public intellectuals have been screeching from the top of their lungs for more than two years about the dire threat to the republic. They even managed to jawbone the tech companies into restricting speech on social-media sites to combat this insidious threat.

Have they ever been more wrong?

Why yes! Yes they have!

The Russia hoax was only the latest in a long chain of grievous errors. In the past 20 years, the number of times that our civic betters have royally screwed up is astounding. They missed 9/11. They wrongly thought Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons. They didn’t see that Iraq was sliding into chaos by late 2005. They allowed Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden to steal our secrets. They didn’t see the 2008–09 economic crisis coming until it hit them square in the jaw. They missed how a vast array of government policies and decisions contributed to it. They told us that the stimulus would reduce unemployment. They assured us that if we liked our health care we could keep it. They couldn’t even get a website running. They let Libya and Syria fall into chaos.

That works out to be about one massive screw-up every 20 or so months. That is insane. The array of mistakes is bipartisan, and it has been committed collectively by journalists, bureaucrats, and public intellectuals. There is one, abiding constant: The people tasked with the day-to-day management and oversight of our government have an arrogance-to-excellence ratio that is shockingly high.

These people are a testament to the failure of our higher-education system over the last generation, which has produced an untold number of second-raters who are convinced they are first-raters. They are also a shining monument to the virtues of federalism — for all the many problems with returning power to the states, at least these dummies won’t have as much influence. These middlebrow poseurs are a better argument for libertarianism than F. A. Hayek could ever conjure up.

I am now more discomfited by them than I am by Trump’s tomfoolery. At least we will be rid of Trump eventually. Despite literally decades of egregious errors, this class of “leaders” remains steadfastly in place, waiting to take charge once more when Trump exits the political stage.

God help us.

Jay Cost is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College.

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