Thursday, October 26, 2017

There Is Always Something

Charles P. Pierce explains how and why opposition research (“Oppo”) works and why the newest kink in the Russia investigation and the “salacious” dossier are not necessarily the news.

Look, I would prefer that Oppo not be a part of our politics, but, unfortunately, that horse left the barn at approximately the same time that our ancestors left the primordial sea. (Josh Green wrote one of the definitive pieces on modern Oppo thirteen years ago in The Atlantic.) As long as we trust our politics to human beings as failed and flawed as we are, then Oppo is going to be with us as a self-governing democratic people. And Oppo is not always destructive. Indeed, in this case, if it reveals something more about the accommodations between various Russian oligarchs and the president*, it may even be said to have been of some benefit. However, that would depend on the political utility of the Oppo, and the willingness of the elite political press to allow itself to be used along with it. At the moment, the prospects are not rosy.

Right now, as the Mueller investigation grinds on, we are seeing a determined effort on the part of the president*’s allies to change the subject—or, at least, to put the whole thing into a Both Sides context that will reduce the whole issue to easily digestible mush. In addition to the WaPo scooplet, fed to the paper by those mysterious people familiar with the situation, we have seen the reemergence of Rep. Devin Nunes, the hopelessly compromised White House bobo and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who, in alliance with Rep. Trey Gowdy, the lopheaded Javert of Benghazi, Benghazi, BENGHAZI!, is trying to restart the whole business about the sale of uranium to Russia.

Whether or not this strategy works is completely a function of how the elite political media respond to it, and whether or not said elite political media is intimidated by the fact that 36 percent of the American people are liable to believe anything as long as they don’t have to believe that the president* is playing footsie with Vladimir Putin. This 36 percent of our fellow citizens live out their political lives listening to the same radio and TV stars who will beat this latest revelation into mulch. Again, I am not optimistic.

You didn’t really think we’d get through this without someone bringing back Her E-mails and Benghazi!, did you?