Mueller Hearings

We have now arrived at a place where Congress can no longer perform its duty to oversee the behavior of the executive branch of our government.

Robert Mueller’s appearance before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees were a chance for Congress to explain to the American people the details of the Mueller report. 

Instead, the hearings were a junior varsity sideshow that did not illuminate. Additionally, the media, with a few notable exceptions, fails every day to explain the Mueller report, Russian interference in the election and the Trump role in trying to deep-six the Mueller probe. 

There are notable exceptions. The New York Times and Washington Post, as usual, provide fearless, in-depth coverage of the biggest scandal since Watergate. 

Back then – the early 1970s – Republicans and Democrats fought it out. But when the good of the country was at stake, they came together to fix things. Barry Goldwater, Howard Baker, and others all kept the good of the country front of mind. 

That is now all gone. Republicans banded together to the protect Trump, regardless of the facts. And they are getting away with it.

Why?

Because they can. And I am not at all sure Democrats would not do the same thing. But in this moment, Republicans are backed by a media and Internet landscape that knows no values, just profit. Fox News has become a propaganda arm of the Republican Party and white racism. The party has adopted a strategy of destruction of anyone who gets in their way. They will tolerate racism and violence and do whatever is necessary to defeat the opposition. 

It is time to ask whether journalism can be done via any model other than non-profit.

When the Senate conducted the Watergate hearings in the early 70s they hired special counsels to do the questioning because they knew they didn’t have the chops to go toe to toe with Nixon’s bad guys.  Same thing with the Iran-Contra hearings. Here’s to Sam Dash for those old enough to remember. 

Today’s Congress, driven by the media culture, refused to turn the questioning over to professionals. The result was a forum in which Republicans got away with questioning the integrity of a Purple Heart Vietnam veteran and career prosecutor.  And their media apologists abet that effort. 

With these hearings, the US has now sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that we will tolerate corruption in our elections and will only focus on a civil culture war at home while other countries eat our lunch. 

Whether or not we decide to become the country we can be or whether we give in to being a second-tier, vaguely corrupt autocracy will be decided in the next election.