About That Barr Report
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
The Barr report on the Mueller report does not tell us much. The upshot is that the Mueller report comes off much as many of us anticipated. Few minds will be changed. Where things will stand when the dust settles on the political landscape remains to be seen. I recommend this column by Charles Sykes at The Bulwark for a good analysis of where Barr leaves us: No Collusion. No Exoneration: The failure to indict is not a finding of innocence.
There was a lot of wishful thinking and some outright delusion that the Mueller investigation would provide conclusive grounds for impeachment of the scoundrel Trump. I felt the tug of that temptation myself. There was also the worrisome possibility that Mueller would uncover wrongdoing sufficiently grievous for House Democrats to feel a constitutional obligation to impeach while not enough Senate Republicans, if any, would be persuaded to convict. The Barr report vindicates Nancy Pelosi's cautious approach to impeachment (Bresnahan and Caygle, Pelosi wins breathing room...).
The Trump regime hit the ground running to weaponize spurious claims of exoneration for use in the 2020 election season and the ongoing campaign to muzzle critics in the press. Barr provides cover for Republican moderates, using the term "moderate" so loosely as to all but strip it of meaning, to join the usual lackeys who were quick to declare all questions settled and call for an end to congressional oversight of the executive branch.
Meanwhile the president forges alliances with Putin, Kim, Netanyahu, and other brutes. The recently unveiled budget throws money at the military while undermining everything else. Immigration policy is distinguished by deliberate mistreatment of children and families on the premise that this will discourage desperate people from seeking a better life in the US. The courts are packed with right-wing ideologues. Environmental regulations are slashed. An agenda devoted to the fossil-fuel industry blithely disregards both the impact of human activity on climate change and analysis suggesting that fossil fuels are rapidly becoming economically unfeasible (McKibben, A Future Without Fossil Fuels?). There is the ongoing conservative project to rip up the social safety net, disparities between wealth and poverty, the racial mess, and much more.
The much maligned federal bureaucracy, the so-called deep state, is being decimated. No doubt slackers, bunglers, and worse are to be found in the federal workforce, just as in every other organization of size and complexity. There are also many honorable people doing their best to fulfill the responsibilities that go with their jobs. Much of what they do is important to the welfare of the country and its individual citizens. Those who are lost will not be easily or quickly replaced. We will not soon recover from the damage inflicted by Trump's first term even if the Democrats win the presidency and take control of the Senate in the next election, an outcome that is by no means certain.
Details of the Mueller report if released figure to counteract some of the propaganda spewed from the White House and Fox Pravda. We already know plenty. Russia mucked about in the 2016 election. Trump openly encouraged Russian hacking. The parade of indictments, guilty pleas, and ongoing investigations has not been washed away.
More than ever the work goes on. Keep the faith.
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John Bresnahan And Heather Caygle, Pelosi wins breathing room on impeachment after Mueller findings, Politico, March 25, 2019
Bill McKibben, A Future Without Fossil Fuels?, The New York Review of Books, April 4, 2019
Charlie Sykes, No Collusion. No Exoneration: The failure to indict is not a finding of innocence, The Bulwark, March 24, 2019
Memo from the Editorial Desk
Minor, nonsubstantive edits were made to this piece after it was published.