Many people are familiar with the proverbial Three Wise Monkeys, although fewer are probably aware that the original Buddhist meaning was to refrain from committing any evil deeds. In the western world, it’s got a very different meaning, suggesting turning a blind eye to others’ misdeeds and a lack of moral character.
That’s why Jonathan Chait’s recent article about the elite conservative meltdown -referenced in Martin’s subscription only piece, and please do subscribe– in reaction to Robert Mueller’s public statement last week is so deeply, deeply funny.
What so vexed the right about Mueller’s curt affirmation of his previous conclusions? The answer, as we’ll see, seems to be that they believed their own propaganda about what Mueller had (and had not) found. Presented even briefly with reality, their minds have reeled in shock.
Mueller produced massive evidence that President Trump committed Nixonian-scale obstruction of justice in office. But Department of Justice policy prevented him from charging a sitting president with a crime, and Mueller reportedly believes he can’t openly state that this policy prevented him from accusing Trump of crimes. Mueller views his job as sending his evidence to Congress without prejudice, where the impeachment mechanism serves as a substitute for the jury trial that such crimes would normally call for.
Trump, William Barr, and the Republican Party followed a strategy of systematically lying about this. Barr repeatedly suggested that Mueller, rather than being unable to charge Trump with crimes, simply didn’t have enough evidence of misconduct to make up his mind. By all indications, the conservative intelligentsia has failed to read the report and believes the misleading spin emanating from the president and his loyal attorney general.
Everything that follows is like observing an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, one that opens with with the affirmation “denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.”
What “apparently hasn’t crossed Cooke’s mind, is that Mueller does have evidence that Trump committed crimes. Pages and pages and pages of evidence, in fact,” writes Chait. “Because Dershowitz cannot surrender his belief in Trump’s innocence, he sees Mueller as carrying out an unfathomable Kafkaesque travesty, rather than a straightforward application of the system of processing presidential crimes.” “Rather than reach [the] obvious conclusion” that Barr lied to the public about the report, John Podhoretz “decides Mueller has bungled the job.”
Read the whole thing. It’s a beautiful takedown by Chait, illustrating drily the enormous rainbow-colored, oh-so-fragile dirigible in which the conservative intelligentsia has floated off its moorings. It is a classic case of confirmation bias, and it is hilarious to watch these so-called brainiacs -the deeeeeeeeeep thinkers of the conservative movement– shriek “but but but” like nothing more than three hysterical, but not-so-bright, macaques piloting the Hindenburg. (Yes, I know Chait mentions “meathead” Dan Bongino, which is exactly why I don’t. Three of these jokers is enough.)
But here is the infuriating part, sure to cool your derisive laughter. Despite being absolutely wrong and utterly discredited on what might be, other than climate change, the issue of our time, not one of these gentlemen will be disinvited from television. Dersh will still yuk it up on CNN and J-Pod will continue to joust playfully with Katy Tur. Cooke will continue popping in with Bill Maher. No one will miss a beat or a paycheck.
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.