Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III. The name alone can roll off a Southerner’s tongue like melted butter dripping off my Big Mama’s biscuits. I just had a feeling that the testimony of this favorite son of Selma, Alabama, would provide good political theater when he appeared this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Boy, was I right.
I sat through almost three hours of that testimony thinking this week’s column would write itself. There was an outline in my head for the whole column, using Sessions’ words to highlight his righteous indignant in full-blown Southern guignol. That would dovetail nicely with last week’s column about Comey’s testimony, with his quoting Henry II. There would be references to dueling, to Senator Burr’s being a distant cousin of Aaron Burr, which could then lead to some innuendos of my own about Senator Burr—who looks a whole lot more like a football coach than a senator.
But the trouble is, that was on Tuesday. And, Steven Colbert got there first. Except the football coach thing.
Then Wednesday morning, we have the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. And I’m just not going to get into that. But by Wednesday evening, The Washington Post reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the President obstructed justice in regards to the investigation into the Russian hacking and meddling scandal.
Well, I’ve been here before. No, I’m not talking about Richard Nixon and Watergate—although I could. And I’m not talking about Bill Clinton and Whitewater—although I could. What I do mean is that I had to go to bed with only a partial column written on Wednesday night, because the completed version would have to take into consideration whatever Trump would tweet on Thursday morning. Let’s keep it real—it’s all about me.
So here we are, Thursday morning, looking at those tweets. And while the unfolding of this investigation is more enthralling than any season of House of Cards, I am getting a wee bit tired of being talked to like I haven’t got sense enough to come in out of the rain. As Sissy Spacek said in Coal Miner’s Daughter, “I may be ignorant, but I ain’t stupid.” And if I’m ignorant, it’s because I’m not privy to the classified information developed in relationship to this investigation.
I don’t know if there’s evidence to support any allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. I don’t know if Trump’s political enemies have moved to asserting obstruction of justice because the collusion thing failed. I don’t know if this is “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history.” (I’m pretty sure that last one is wrong, as I lived through the 1990’s. And please stop shouting. Louder doesn’t make it true.) But I DO know that many of those folks who ARE getting the classified information (sorry for shouting) think we need to move forward with the investigation.
And while we’re on the subject of statements that assume we’re all stupid, did you see the one from Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz? “The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.” My dear Mr. Kasowitz, the leaks—from whatever source they emanate—is not your biggest problem. And, no, I do not refer to the missing oxford comma. If the President did obstruct justice, that would be outrageous, inexcusable, and illegal.
The winds blowing in Washington are fast moving, but they are decidedly not ill winds. I count a half dozen members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who can make political hay with their high profile exposure. Hopes and plans for 2020 are being nurtured, while reporters are working to be the Woodward and Bernstein of this scandal. Cable news network viewership for CNN, Fox, and MSNBC for the first week of June is up 33% over the same period last year—and that was in the middle of a presidential election.
The bad news for Trump isn’t really that he’s under criminal investigation. That may or may not come to something significant. The really bad news is more than half of Washington, including a good number of Republicans, plus every investigative reporter on the Washington beat, plus the corporate networks, all need him to continue flailing. And maybe straight up failing. It’s good for business.
So who won last week? The relatively invisible Bill Cosby. And, maybe, just maybe, Mike Pence.