The Corner

Politics & Policy

Quick Thots on the Latest

(1) It turns out the “nothingburger” has … beef.

(2) In politics, as in other areas of life, this is true: If people cover up one thing, chances are they are covering up another. Or will do so. Another and another. Rare is the person who eats just one potato chip.

(3) Being a conservative does not mean being a defender of a Republican administration, come what may. Conscience ought to come before tribe.

“The conscience of a conservative” — could work as the title of a book.

(4) I hope Robert Mueller has time to complete his work — to do it soberly, responsibly, and thoroughly. A lot of people are looking to him. A lot of people are curious about the question, What exactly happened, Russia-wise, in the 2016 campaign?

(5) It’s true, a lot of people don’t care. They tend to be Republicans. And those who do care tend to be Democrats. This is typical politics.

If the Kremlin had attempted to aid Hillary, and Hillary had been elected, R’s would be red-hot to find out everything that happened — every jot and tittle. And D’s would say “hoax,” “witch hunt,” “move on,” etc.

(6) I don’t remember “hoax,” but, in the ’90s, I heard a lot of “witch hunt” and “move on.” Every day. In fact, Democrats founded an organization called “Move On”! What is new under the sun?

(7) Quite possibly, President Trump will fire Mueller. By his own admission, he fired James Comey because he didn’t like the Russia heat. If he fires Mueller, what will people say?

I think we can almost write the script, now. Everyone will play his part, like actors in a show.

(8) Trump partisans are already preparing the ground for Mueller’s firing. That is, they are talking about Mueller in a way that will make people receptive of his firing.

Newt Gingrich, for example, calls him “the tip of the Deep State spear.” (Paul Ryan’s GOP-primary opponent called Ryan “the head of the globalist snake.” Amazing how Republicans talk these days.)

(9) All his career, Mueller had been a respected Republican prosecutor. Indeed, when Mueller agreed to his latest appointment in May, Gingrich tweeted, “Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down.”

But then the need changed, I guess: the need of the party, or the need of Trump. (Is there a difference?) Mueller had to be “the tip of the Deep State spear,” and worse.

(10) I imagine Mueller has a sense of racing against the clock. He should do as much as he can, before he is fired, if he is fired. There is a lot of confusion about the Russians and the 2016 campaign. A lot of mystery. A responsible federal investigation should clear it up.

The Warren Commission served this purpose. It told the public what it needed, and deserved, to know. (Of course, the Kennedy assassination was a much more serious matter than what we’re talking about now.)

True, not everyone accepted the commission’s conclusions. Grassy-knollers, we will always have with us. Every year, there is a new conspiracy theory about the assassination. Last year, in partnership with the National Enquirer, the president-to-be floated the idea that Ted Cruz’s dad had worked with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Maybe there should be a new Warren Commission (not headed by Elizabeth)?

(11) I myself doubt that much happened between the Kremlin and Team Trump in 2016. What is damning, I think, is Trump’s public statements about Putin and the Kremlin: about the political killings and so on.

(12) It’s an ever-useful exercise to ask, “What would I be saying if the shoe were on the other foot? If the shoe were on the other party’s foot?”

The other day, Trump had his elder daughter, Ivanka, sit in for him at an international summit. Warm his chair, so to speak. D’s thought this was gross; R’s either defended it or shrugged.

What if Hillary had been elected and then had Chelsea sit in? What would D’s say, what would R’s say? You can hear them — hear us — can’t you?

Often, there is no principle involved: just tribes. Red shirts and blue shirts or what have you.

(13) Everyone gripes about the press, including me. I have made a virtual career out of it. I have especially griped about the New York Times, for they are the Big Kahuna. Once, I said to Rob Long, “I’m afraid my column is nothing but ‘Jay Nordlinger reads the New York Times and then fumes.’” Rob, nicely, answered, “What’s wrong with that?”

Griping aside, a free press is a wondrous thing, and relatively rare in the world. It is indispensable to a democracy.

Last week, Putin was sitting with Trump and pointed at some reporters. “Are these the ones who hurt your feelings?” he asked. The two leaders had a good chuckle over that.

In Russia, you don’t hurt Putin’s feelings and last for long. There is a long roll of dead who can testify to that, or would.

(14) People have asked me, “Do you think Trump will last his term?” I say, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he were reelected. I just don’t know. Haven’t a clue.”

(15) Stick close to truth — wonderful, magnificent truth, to the extent it can be known. Through all the fog, emitted on all sides, stick close to truth.

End of notes (and sermon).