Or so one might be led to believe on reading his triumphal tweets following the publication of the Mueller report. “No collusion!” “No obstruction!” “A hoax!”
But if the president managed to avoid the kind of ‘smoking gun’ moment that brought down Richard Nixon he hardly emerges from the report as the exonerated victim he claims to be. Even the man himself thought, in one of his rare reflective moments, that he might be found guilty of both offences. Or, as he expressed it, in his usual eloquent style, “I’m fucked”.
So he would have been, at least of the obstruction offence, if his legal aides had not declined to do his bidding. Asking people to commit a crime is not a prosecutable offence, apparently, if they decline to comply. Only a man without a moral core and a sense of shame could claim that their refusal represented his exoneration.
To Republicans, and not just his most avid followers, the whole Mueller enterprise is now scorned as a pointless and vengeful exercise, and a waste of public money. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? To Democrats, and other liberal elements, it all ended in a disappointing anti-climax – all those lawyers, all those witnesses, all those countless hours of interrogation, and the best a top-level investigator can come up with is that “Trump may be a sleaze but I can’t prove it”.
“Thanks a lot, Bob. We’ll call if we need you again – I don’t think.”
Some presidential hopefuls are already calling for his removal from office and no doubt more will follow. The sensible consensus, though, is that Impeachment would be a futile exercise, with the Republican-controlled Senate killing it off even if the Democrats in the House of Representatives presented it – and that such a failure would anyway only reinforce the perception that the liberal are ‘out to get’ the president, come what may.
The Democrats, whose declared presidential candidates already number close to a score, would be better off concentrating on the administration’s legislative sins, both of commission and omission, and skewed priorities. They should, for a start, concentrate on Trump’s Achilles heel: the health issue. Twice he has failed to roll back Obama-care, which worries even some of his core voters. The stark question the Democrats ought to be asking over and over is why it is that the world’s richest nation can’t, or won’t, meet its moral responsibility to look after the health of its citizens. And God knows there are plenty of other social issues which strike a chord with ordinary disaffected voters that a political party of the moderate left should be considering as key campaign issues. A mere handful will do.
Mueller is destined to become an historical footnote. Forget impeachment – it is a distracting sideshow. Bring the man down through the normal democratic process. He is obviously unqualified for the job, seriously incompetent, patently dishonest and potentially dangerous. If the Democrats can’t build a case for an alternative to a man like that then they will deserve to lose, and merit the impotent oblivion they will suffer for the four years that would follow.
I am not too impressed with the candidates on offer so far, although I keep telling myself these are early days. They and the message they are trying to put across are too diffuse. There is hope. Barack Obama emerged from obscurity, after serving less than a single term in the Senate, so perhaps someone will follow his example. Right now, I am not breathless with confident expectation.
“Four more years”, the faithful once chanted as they nominated Nixon, who went on to thrash his morally decent but politically uninspiring Democratic opponent in an embarrassing landslide. Unless the Democrats come up with someone credible I fear we may be in for a repeat performance.