Like it or loathe it, the “Mueller investigation” has to be considered a complete and total success.
No, The Man From B.C.C.I. didn’t “get Trump” — but did anybody besides Rachel Maddow really think that “the Russians” had a significant hand in the 2016 election? Even if they’d seriously and illegally tried to game the outcome, with Trump’s encouragement and/or participation, what chance did a bunch of ex-KGB goons with Facebook accounts have against a weaponized Google, not to mention the super-wealthy who put millions upon millions of dollars in play on both sides of the political divide? Nor does the report appear to provide any ready-made basis to impeach the President, the way that Ken Starr’s work did with Bill Clinton — but again, what were the chances that a man with forty years’ worth of experience dodging politically-motivated prosecution in New York City would be an easy target for the man who appears to have been easily manipulated by both George Bush and the Boston Mafia?
From my outsider’s perspective, however, the Mueller investigation wasn’t about keeping Russia out of our elections. It was about making it perfectly clear that any future President who hails from outside the “Swamp” or the “Deep State” will be hounded into madness and bankruptcy by that so-called Deep State. This has little to do with party loyalty; one can easily imagine Tulsi Gabbard or Rand Paul being on the receiving end of a similar battering-via-prosecution after winning an election. Even if our potential maverick politicians are not discouraged by this prospect, surely they’ll have a hard time filling their staffs prior to those elections. You’d have to be a certified moron not to notice the fact that Jeffrey Epstein did thirteen months for raping dozens of underaged girls but Paul Manafort is almost certainly going to die in prison. When it comes to selective prosecution, there really is such a thing as being on the right side of history.
Consider, also, the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton have made nine-figure fortunes from the residuals of their “co-presidency”, while Mr. and Mrs. Obama have received well over fifty million dollars in speaking fees and book royalties since leaving office — but Donald Trump, who entered the White House with a net worth of somewhere between one and three billion dollars depending on which source you believe, will probably spend the rest of his life fighting legal actions and prosecutions designed to drive him into the poorhouse and/or the grave. Forbes thinks that being President has cost Trump over a billion dollars so far, with more to come. In this context, allegations of $40,000 hotel stays on Trump properties by heads of state seem slightly inadequate by contrast. (It should be noted that both of the Bushes entered the job as rich men and left it the same way.)
If Trump’s ongoing public crucifixion frightens Zuckerberg or Bezos out of running for President, then perhaps the whole witch hunt has been money and effort well spent. The true cost of the Mueller investigation, however, will be borne by society, every time the proverbial Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington because he doesn’t care to sacrifice his life, and the lives of his children, on a media-operated altar. The only people who can survive winning an election in a post-Mueller world will be the people who have been political creatures since college — all those annoying class presidents and committee leaders who are immune to the lure of any pleasure save the acquisition of absolute power by any means necessary. That should scare you. It certainly scares me.
For Cycle World, I looked back at the ZRX Kawasakis. It should be noted that this is a late Web publication of a print article from a month or two back; I’m no longer writing about bikes for CW.