The Bul****: You’ve Gotta Pivot Like There’s Nobody Watching

 

Lest we lose sight of the forest for the trees: It seems to me likely Mueller will find there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives; that Trump knew about it; and that Trump sought to cover it up and obstruct its investigation. What then? Good question. — Bill Kristol, August 9, 2018

Good question, indeed. The complementary question, of course, is: what if Mueller doesn’t find that there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives? What then?

We have an answer: you pivot.

What the Mueller report says, per Attorney General Barr, is this:

[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

But pop over to The Bulwark and read Kim Wehle’s piece, Mueller Report: What We Can Learn From Barr’s Initial Letter to Congressional Leaders, and you’ll discover that the Barr letter, per Ms. Wehle,

contains no facts or substantive information—nothing about what Mueller did or did not find with respect to his investigative mandate from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

I’m confused. The letter seems to clearly state that Mueller did not find evidence to establish collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which actually was a principal objective of Mueller’s mandate. How does this clear finding become “nothing about what Mueller did or did not find?”

Read the rest of the piece and you won’t come across this seemingly important tidbit of information: that the investigation launched to find evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia did not find evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

Ms. Wehle does, however, instruct us to drop the “witch hunt” talk.

The piece by Charles Sykes, No Collusion. No Exoneration at least mentions that no collusion was found. It mentions it in the title, and in the first paragraph.

That’s it. The rest of the article is about obstruction. See how the pivot works?

Oh, and Mr. Sykes also lays down the law for us: “There was no witch hunt.”

(It almost seems like a Bulwark theme, that last bit.)

As If you read the articles at The Bulwark, you’ll notice two things. First, the pivot, the effortless shift from collusion to obstruction, as if the threat to our democracy was never the intrusion of Russian influence (it wasn’t, but that was the drum they were beating), but rather the danger of the President being critical of an investigation he knew, by virtue of being its object, to be pointless.

Secondly, you’ll see a lot of whataboutism, particularly from Sykes and Last. How exactly one’s attitude about past misdeeds by prominent Democrats factors into the revelation that there was no Trump collusion with the Russians escapes me; it seems to impose a moral standard on a legal question, as if to say that anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton should probably go to jail for her supposed crimes is a hypocrite for acknowledging that there was no Trump collusion with the Russians.

In short, after having beaten the collusion narrative into the ground with the rest of the mainstream media, Sykes and Co. are doing exactly what every left-leaning media organization is going to do: overlook the negative finding on collusion, and pivot instantly to speculation about obstruction in the investigation of collusion that, we now know, didn’t occur.

I will revisit The Bulwark when someone informs me that Charles Sykes has posted a piece acknowledging his mistaken credulity, and pondering, however briefly, how so many fell for what seemed, even two years ago, a preposterous narrative.

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  1. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    In fairness to Sykes, I suspect he used the word “exonerate” because the President did, and Sykes was contradicting the President’s statement.

    This is also the term the Special Counsel used, is it not?

    • #31
  2. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Bill Kristol’s position throughout the investigation was that Robert Mueller was above reproach. He’s maintained that position even as Mueller has come to a conclusion that he did not want or expect. That makes him a lot more constant than those who spent two years defaming Mueller and are now wrapping themselves in his credibility like an olympic runner with the flag.

    Intentionally or not the Bulwark trolls trumpeters with question-begging headlines and harping over relatively minor points, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Nor is their any virtue in being trolled, which seems to be the gist of most the now blooming sub-genre of affronted Bulwark criticism on the right. Get over it, and yourselves.

    I suppose there’s a fine line between being trolled and being critical. I’m aiming for the latter.

    As for Kristol, all I really want from him is an acknowledgement that he was mistaken — and that his error is relevant. He thought whatever would follow a Mueller finding of collusion would be significant. This implies that a Mueller non-finding of collusion would also be significant. I want to read his acknowledgement of that — and not just a pivot to the next plausible justification for removing a President he doesn’t like.

     

    2. Seems on point here

    • #32
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Stad (View Comment):

    Aren’t there two “L”s in Bull****?

    Two different words, one with one “L” and one with two “L’s”. Exact same meaning.

    • #33
  4. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Bill Kristol’s position throughout the investigation was that Robert Mueller was above reproach. He’s maintained that position even as Mueller has come to a conclusion that he did not want or expect. That makes him a lot more constant than those who spent two years defaming Mueller and are now wrapping themselves in his credibility like an olympic runner with the flag.

    Intentionally or not the Bulwark trolls trumpeters with question-begging headlines and harping over relatively minor points, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Nor is their any virtue in being trolled, which seems to be the gist of most the now blooming sub-genre of affronted Bulwark criticism on the right. Get over it, and yourselves.

    I suppose there’s a fine line between being trolled and being critical. I’m aiming for the latter.

    As for Kristol, all I really want from him is an acknowledgement that he was mistaken — and that his error is relevant. He thought whatever would follow a Mueller finding of collusion would be significant. This implies that a Mueller non-finding of collusion would also be significant. I want to read his acknowledgement of that — and not just a pivot to the next plausible justification for removing a President he doesn’t like.

    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    I mean look at the chin, man! Look at this chin!

    • #34
  5. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    In fairness to Sykes, I suspect he used the word “exonerate” because the President did, and Sykes was contradicting the President’s statement.

    This is also the term the Special Counsel used, is it not?

    As I recall, though it’s possible I am mistaken, the summary letter did not quote Mueller’s actual words regarding obstruction. The Attorney General may have used the word, but I don’t remember. I don’t think he did.

    • #35
  6. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    • #36
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    If you perused the Twitter accounts of prominent Democrats this morning you’d be aware that the new talking point is that William Barr cannot be trusted because he is the President’s “handpicked” AG. Evidently I slept through that golden age of American politics where all cabinet positions were assigned by a national lottery. (“Handpicked” is a bookend to the ever popular, growing by leaps and bounds, “selectively edited.” Before James O’Keefe came along all media was put together randomly by a group of drunken simians.)

    Hillary (and Smollett) walk and it’s “prosecutorial discretion.” Mueller dissapoints and it’s “a coverup.” The former Secretary of State was “exonerated” but Trump was not. Trump supporters are “cultists” but inconsistency in the service of blind loyalty to a preferred outcome to just another day in the media. 

     

    • #37
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Gaius: And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Besides ripping the country apart with falsehoods for two years without a shred of evidence? But then Kristol has never been big on evidence to get his desired results. (See: Mass Destruction, Weapons of)

    • #38
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    In fairness to Sykes, I suspect he used the word “exonerate” because the President did, and Sykes was contradicting the President’s statement.

    This is also the term the Special Counsel used, is it not?

    As I recall, though it’s possible I am mistaken, the summary letter did not quote Mueller’s actual words regarding obstruction. The Attorney General may have used the word, but I don’t remember. I don’t think he did.

    Barr quotes Mueller directly.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-william-barr-letter-to-congress-20190324-htmlstory.html

    • #39
  10. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Gaius: And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Besides ripping the country apart with falsehoods for two years without a shred of evidence? But then Kristol has never been big on evidence to get his desired results. (See: Mass Destruction, Weapons of)

    Tore the country apart? Personally? Bill Kristol, with his what, claws? Quite a feat.

    Kristol was wrong. So were a lot of people, all of which Trump could have avoided by not hiring russiophile cronies and praising dictators as they hacked his political enemies.

    • #40
  11. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Which Bulwark scribbler are you?

    • #41
  12. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    EJHill (View Comment):
    If you perused the Twitter accounts of prominent Democrats this morning you’d be aware that the new talking point is that William Barr cannot be trusted because he is the President’s “handpicked” AG.

    Yeah, the talking points went out, and “hand-picked” is all over the Democrat Twittersphere.

    A small sample.

    • #42
  13. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Which Bulwark scribbler are you?

    A pretty poor one since I called them trolls in this very thread. But, if it makes you feel better, sure I work for the Bulwark. 

    • #43
  14. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gaius (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Which Bulwark scribbler are you?

    A pretty poor one since I called them trolls in this very thread. But, if it makes you feel better, sure I work for the Bulwark.

    I knew it!

    • #44
  15. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    Which Bulwark scribbler are you?

    Scribbler is one of my favorite Trumpist epithets, right up there with “velum fetishist.” I also wear glasses. Someone tell Pol Pot!

    • #45
  16. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I prefer “deplorable” over “Trumpist.” More prestigious. 

    • #46
  17. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I prefer “deplorable” over “Trumpist.” More prestigious.

    I’m sure you can find some Nigerian dudes to yell it at you for the right price. Sorry I couldn’t give you your grievance fix. 

    • #47
  18. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    EJHill (View Comment):

    If you perused the Twitter accounts of prominent Democrats this morning you’d be aware that the new talking point is that William Barr cannot be trusted because he is the President’s “handpicked” AG. Evidently I slept through that golden age of American politics where all cabinet positions were assigned by a national lottery. (“Handpicked” is a bookend to the ever popular, growing by leaps and bounds, “selectively edited.” Before James O’Keefe came along all media was put together randomly by a group of drunken simians.)

    Hillary (and Smollett) walk and it’s “prosecutorial discretion.” Mueller dissapoints and it’s “a coverup.” The former Secretary of State was “exonerated” but Trump was not. Trump supporters are “cultists” but inconsistency in the service of blind loyalty to a preferred outcome to just another day in the media.

     

    Comey: Um, uh … Mrs. Lynch …

    Loretta: What do you want now, Comey?!

    Comey: Um, uh … ma’am …

    Loretta: Don’t call me ma’am! You will refer to me as Attorney General Lynch! How many times do I have to say this?!

    Comey: Um … Attorney General Lynch. Some of the boys and I were talking …

    Loretta: Boys?! Boys?! What kind of a place you running down there, Comey?! Misogynist!

    Comey: Begging your pardon ma’am/Madame Attorney General, I assure you we have an equal number of women.

    Loretta: Silence! Enough! Out with it already! You’ve wasted enough of my time! Why are you here?!

    Comey: Um, uh, well, I’m … the boys and I … um, uh … (shuffles feet nervously)

    Loretta:  Out With It!! Now!!

    Comey: I’m uncomfortable. I have a bad feeling. The guys and I are worried.

    Loretta: Oh for #@%&*. What?!

    Comey: That tarmac meeting with him. It makes us look conflicted. I’m uncomfortable.

    Loretta: There was no tarmac meeting. I have told you to forget about that. Am I clear?

    Comey: Yes, but I have a bad feeling. The press has picked up on it and it’s in the papers!

    Loretta: I’ve told you to let me worry about the press!

    Comey: First, it was just a matter and not an investigation. And now it is no tarmac meeting.

    Loretta: Are you questioning my judgement?! Or even my intellect white boy?!

    Comey: Oh, no Ma’am, I mean Madame, I mean Your Excellency. 

    Loretta: I’m going to say this only once more and you are never to bring it up again. Okay?

    Comey: yes …

    Loretta: There was no tarmac meeting. We spoke by phone about our grandchildren. Got it?

    Comey: Mrs. Attorney General. The boys are gonna want to …..

    Loretta: GET OUT Of My Office! Now!

    Comey leaves. He pulls out his phone and says “Alexa, take a note”. “Dear diary ……”

     

     

    • #48
  19. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    In fairness to Sykes, I suspect he used the word “exonerate” because the President did, and Sykes was contradicting the President’s statement.

    This is also the term the Special Counsel used, is it not?

    As I recall, though it’s possible I am mistaken, the summary letter did not quote Mueller’s actual words regarding obstruction. The Attorney General may have used the word, but I don’t remember. I don’t think he did.

    Barr quotes Mueller directly.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-william-barr-letter-to-congress-20190324-htmlstory.html

    You are correct. As I said, I might have been remembering incorrectly. 

    The whole “exonerate” kerfuffle — the debate over the appropriateness of the word — seems unimportant to me. 

    • #49
  20. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    rgbact (View Comment):
    “Pivot”? Its the reality. Impeachment is a political process. If Congress thinks Trump’s firing of Comey and other obstructing rises to the level of impeachment, thats what they’ll do. Sykes is just laying out the reality.

    Yeah but that is not actually a reality. There is no impeachment, or at least not in the Senate.  Reality is that it takes Republican votes to do this. Republicans are not going to impeach a Republican President on “maybe there was something questionable or maybe not”. It was always going to take clear and convincing evidence to get bi-partisan support for impeachment.  Muller on both Collusion and Obstruction did not reach conclusions that would lead Republicans to vote to impeach. 

    Reality is that this all over  but the shouting. 

    • #50
  21. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gaius (View Comment):
    Kristol was wrong. So were a lot of people, all of which Trump could have avoided by not hiring russiophile cronies and praising dictators as they hacked his political enemies.

    The implication here is that the two-year drumbeat of lies about “COLLUSION!” is all the President’s fault? Man, that’s a hot take!

    • #51
  22. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):
    Kristol was wrong. So were a lot of people, all of which Trump could have avoided by not hiring russiophile cronies and praising dictators as they hacked his political enemies.

    The implication here is that the two-year drumbeat of lies about “COLLUSION!” is all the President’s fault? Man, that’s a hot take!

    Waiting for a process to resolve itself and then accepting the results of that process does not a “drumbeat of lies” make.

    Regardless of the issue, if your position is that either the left or right has a monopoly of fault, in 2019 you’re probably deluding yourself. In the law there’s a difference between “but for” and proximate causation. But this isn’t a court of law. The proximate cause of leftists and nevertrumpers jumping to conclusions on the collusion question is their own impatience and will to believe. It remains the case that “but for” Trump’s lack of the vestigial sense of patriotism and honor that stops normal people from cheering foreign interference in our politics those conspiracy theories would never have formed. That’s important and will always bear mentioning. 

    • #52
  23. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gaius (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):
    Kristol was wrong. So were a lot of people, all of which Trump could have avoided by not hiring russiophile cronies and praising dictators as they hacked his political enemies.

    The implication here is that the two-year drumbeat of lies about “COLLUSION!” is all the President’s fault? Man, that’s a hot take!

    Waiting for a process to resolve itself and then accepting the results of that process does not a “drumbeat of lies” make.

    But the press did not wait for the process. They peddled the “Collusion” lie for more than two years as if it was absolutely verifiable. And then to say that it’s the President’s fault they lied . . . that’s just nonsense. Yeah, we lied, but if the President hadn’t hired Manafort we wouldn’t have had to! 

    • #53
  24. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    But the press did not wait for the process. They peddled the “Collusion” lie for more than two years as if it was absolutely verifiable.

    I don’t think this is true of Bill Kristol. He may have salivated over what he thought was a forthcoming inditement, which is unseemly but not this. 

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    And then to say that it’s the President’s fault they lied . . . that’s just nonsense. Yeah, we lied, but if the President hadn’t hired Manafort we wouldn’t have had to!

    See my discussion of “fault” above. 

    • #54
  25. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS
    @user_54742

    Gaius (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gaius (View Comment):
    Kristol was wrong. So were a lot of people, all of which Trump could have avoided by not hiring russiophile cronies and praising dictators as they hacked his political enemies.

    The implication here is that the two-year drumbeat of lies about “COLLUSION!” is all the President’s fault? Man, that’s a hot take!

    Waiting for a process to resolve itself and then accepting the results of that process does not a “drumbeat of lies” make.

    Regardless of the issue, if your position is that either the left or right has a monopoly of fault, in 2019 you’re probably deluding yourself. In the law there’s a difference between “but for” and proximate causation. But this isn’t a court of law. The proximate cause of leftists and nevertrumpers jumping to conclusions on the collusion question is their own impatience and will to believe. It remains the case that “but for” Trump’s lack of the vestigial sense of patriotism and honor that stops normal people from cheering foreign interference in our politics those conspiracy theories would never have formed. That’s important and will always bear mentioning.

    What happens if during the “process” it is proven the underlying crime was a fraud perpetrated by the very agencies now administering the super duper Special Counsel “process”.

    There never was probable cause to initiate Crossfire Hurricane much less the Special Counsel investigation.  The DOJ/FBI accepted a unverified fraudulent dossier from the opposition candidate, lied to the FISA court, leaked to the press, they unmasked, etc.  …. they manufactured a fake crime where no actual crime ever existed ….. that is the definition of corruption …. this entire “process” should have never occurred.

    The Obama DOJ/FBI/IC perpetrated a massive fraud and your quite content with how the “process” resolved itself … I disagree.

    • #55
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Gaius (View Comment):
    Bill Kristol’s position throughout the investigation was that Robert Mueller was above reproach.

    I wonder who is going to be first to accuse Trump of buying Mueller off, or blackmailing him into finding nothing . . .

    • #56
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):

    Someday I’ll learn how to correctly delete a comment ….

    See Comment#25

    I’ve read that Comment#24 was actually the better one – strong, raw emotion and compelling imagery that made you feel you were actually present when it was being written, and that while comment#25 manages to convey what it is meant to, it comes off as low-key and even mannered by comparison. 

    All in all, Comment #25 is a solid effort, but we are left wondering what might have been. 

    (4 of 5 Stars) 

    • #57
  28. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    I mean look at the chin, man! Look at this chin!

    It is magnificent. It stands solid and proud like a promontory, like a rampart or a b… something starting with ‘b’. Aha! Got it: ‘buttress’. 

    • #58
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Gaius (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    Good grief, man. What are you thinking?! A man of such aristocratic upbringing and such impeccable taste and gallant, well-bred heritage does not in any way ever deign to apologize to the common riff-raff! Those plebeians are deplorable.

    And what exactly did Bill Kristol do to your victimized proletariat self that would warrant an apology, or is that not the kind of question we ask about our revolutionary class enemies?

    wut? 

    • #59
  30. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS
    @user_54742

    TBA (View Comment):

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):

    Someday I’ll learn how to correctly delete a comment ….

    See Comment#25

    I’ve read that Comment#24 was actually the better one – strong, raw emotion and compelling imagery that made you feel you were actually present when it was being written, and that while comment#25 manages to convey what it is meant to, it comes off as low-key and even mannered by comparison.

    All in all, Comment #25 is a solid effort, but we are left wondering what might have been.

    (4 of 5 Stars)

     

    To show you the mistake I made it happens when you backspace all the way up into the other guys comment, I’ll demonstrate by doing it here.

    This mistake(I’ve actually done it before) makes my comment unclear and is unfair to the other commenter because it appears like my comment is his.  So I very crudely erased the entirety  of both my and the other guys comment in #24,  and started over again and did it correctly in #25.

    Sorry you had to read all that … but …. true story.

    • #60
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