No, it’s not “one ping only.”
I considered really digging in on Pres. Trump’s allegation that fmr Pres. Obama wiretapped him, based on an article at Breitbart. Although this article was based on old news stories, it was apparently all news to Trump, who then leapt to an accusation not fully supported by it.
Nevertheless, Trump’s claim served the political purpose of getting the right to focus more on the idea that the investigation(s) of contacts between people associated with his campaign may have been politically-motivated. After all, the Obama administration abused its administrative and investigatory powers in other cases, so why not here?
My guess is that anyone reading this is already interested enough to have an opinion and that for me to add value, I would have to get very deeply into the weeds, perhaps mind-numbingly so. Accordingly, I will try to add value by not talking about it.
Instead, I will observe that many of the people I see raising their blood pressure over this allegation (and the larger Trump/Russia narrative) tend to be at least eight years younger than I, and frequently considerably younger. Of course, that may just reflect that I’m down with the kids.
People of that age generally have little direct and visceral memory of the time in which many conservatives thought Clinton White House Counsel Vince Foster was murdered. Or that Pres. Clinton had some connection to a drug-running enterprise operating from Mena, Ark., and that there were mysterious deaths connected to it.
Conservatives were inclined to believe such things not only out of partisan passions, but also because the Clintons tended to be surrounded by a cloud of scandals. The odds that Hillary Clinton turned $10,000 into $100,000 as a novice trader of cattle futures were indeed so astronomical as to defy belief. There was evidence to suggest Hillary was involved in the firing and smearing of White House Travel Office employees in a classic bit of cronyism, even if the independent counsel declined to prosecute.
The independent counsel, however, did convict 15 people in the Whitewater scandal, including Bill and Hillary’s business partners in the the ill-fated real estate venture. That investigation stalled when those same business partners, even after they were convicted, refused to discuss the Clintons’ role.
And there was Bill lying under oath in a sexual harassment case, the selling of the Lincoln Bedroom, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.
The point is that when people have a shady track record, whether it be Clinton, Obama or Trump, partisans may be inclined to believe even crazy things about them. Or at least believe them enough to want them investigated.
In fact, sometimes you don’t even need the shady track record. I’m also old enough to recall when Very Serious People investigated whether George H. W. Bush flew in an SR-71 Blackbird jet to Paris to interfere with the Iranian hostage negotiations. They also investigated whether he was involved in drug-running with the Contras in Nicaragua. Apparently, if you have been director of the CIA, there is no limit to your capability for evil.
I mention this not to tell so many of those excited by the allegations against Trump or Obama to get off my lawn, Eastwood-style. It is to observe that it is far different to have lived through the events described above than to hear or read about them.
People who have not been immersed in that sort of political climate may not understand the feeling of them. They may not understand on an emotional level how easy it is to convince yourself that that things which seem crazy now seemed so much more reasonable to consider seriously at the time.
Given the track records of Trump and Obama, it may not be crazy to consider that there may be something (even if it’s a very soft version of the hysterics now) to the allegations against either man or their associates. But maybe we’ll look back and — with the benefit of hindsight — conclude that some or all of it was indeed crazy.
What we do know is that there are investigations that will ultimately produce findings. Regarding those results, as Sean Connery said as Jim Malone in The Untouchables: “Don’t wait for it to happen. Don’t even want it to happen. Just watch what does happen.”
Not that anyone will take that advice when there is punditry to be had.
Update: If you do want to get into the weeds on this issue, Stephen Hayes lays out what we know — and what we don’t know — at TWS.
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