Right for the Wrong Reasons

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger wrote, "Yes, Shut Down Mueller," today. In it, the conservative writer suggested that the president and his lawyer John Dowd (who happened to resign between 6:39pm yesterday and right before lunch this morning) are "right that the Mueller investigation should be shut down. But they're right for the wrong reason." 

I'm not so hung up on the idea of shutting down the Mueller investigation, but it bears sharing my thoughts on the matter before advancing. I think that the special counsel should continue his work but in an expeditious manner. I do not suspect that the former FBI chief is dragging his foot during the process, but it has been over a year since we heard whispers of Russian collusion. Chalk me up as "doubtful" that any significant collusion, whatever the word means in this context, occurred, but for the sake of Democracy the investigation must be completed.

Perhaps it should be troubling if the purview of the special counsel extends far beyond the question of any discrete actions occurring during the campaign or just prior, but it also seems logical that the seeds of "collusion" would likely be planted before the day Trump announced his intention to run in 2015. But this is not carte blanche to dig until you find something illegal, which may be what is now occurring. We will find out soon -- or maybe not soon -- enough, I suppose. 

The point of Henninger's column, though, is the conservative balancing act which has taken place over the past eighteen months or so. Basically, how do you reckon with the intent of what the president says with the way that he says it? That is a question for the ages, and one for which the answer may not come in the near future. With Cambridge Analytica, for example, some have reported that their methods were informed by focus groups which suggested racist undertones in messaging resonated with certain portions of voters. If the policy goal is the same, how much does the method in which you convey the idea matter?

A particular instance of this is The Wall. Acolytes might frame Trump as playing 3D chess in tapping into the desires of the public, but it seems more like blindfolded darts. Every now and then, you're bound to land a bullseye. So Republicans (and most Democrats, in all honesty) do not believe that the border should be a wide-open door, and do believe that border security should be some sort of priority. For Republicans, it can be hard to level with the race-focused sentiments in some of the supporters of The Wall, and the sometimes overt antipathy the president has for our southern neighbors. But if the goal is to stifle illegal immigration, can you stomach it? Many have.

The other side of the coin, then, is The Resistance. Instead of seeking some sort of agreeable middle-ground on the issue, plenty (too many, at least) on the left seem to think stumbling into the trenches in categorical opposition to the president is the best course to take. I am less sure, but that's where we are. When Donald Trump says something it doesn't always mean it's wrong -- a broken clock is right twice a day, you know. 

The basic argument I'm making here, I guess, is that resolute opposition to someone is not a particularly mindful ideology. It isn't an ideology, really, and it's more mindless than mindful. Nobody really gains anything, politically or intellectually. For Republicans, too, it is worth considering whether the ends justify the means. 


Kirk KovachComment