Nothing succeeds like success, so the conventional wisdom goes, but in politics, as a skeptic (of nearly everything) of my acquaintance is fond of reminding me, nothing recedes like success.
The Democratic critics of Donald Trump thought Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and lurid suggestions that Russia colluded with the Republicans in nefarious wrecking schemes, would finally do what Hillary Clinton couldn’t. Donald Trump’s days in the White House were numbered, and not a day too soon. It would be a slam dunk. Everybody who was anybody on the left thought so, and said so, early and often.
It’s not quite working out that way. Mr. Mueller is apparently not finding what he thought he would find and is looking into matters that don’t seem to be much about Russians, elections or even Donald Trump. He has moved into the high weeds in search of something credible to hang his very expensive investigation on. He has hired a lot of highly paid Washington lawyers, some of whom were donors to Hillary’s campaign, and Washington is suddenly rife with speculation and gossip that they haven’t found much that sounds very jail-y.
Now something from the recent past may be gaining on Hillary and nervous Democrats. The hunters have become the hunted. Republicans in Congress announced two new investigations Wednesday, one to revisit Hillary’s email scheme and the other, a cozy uranium deal by the Obama administration with Hillary, as secretary of State, pushing it along, to give the Russians effective control of 20 percent of the American supply of uranium, which is used in the manufacture of, among other things, nuclear weapons.
The mainstream media thought this story had been put into a deep sleep, but this week The Hill, the Capitol Hill web daily of politics, reported that by the time the Obama administration was weighing the wisdom of the uranium deal the FBI had “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”
Hillary, who has lately been in London selling her new book about how and why she lost the election, dismissed the Hill newspaper account as “baloney,” and a spokesman for her said it was “farcical.” But nobody’s laughing this time, and the Hill newspaper account is gaining traction in other media.
These are not happy days for Hillary. She has suffered real pain, not just the pain of events that may be closing in on her. “I was running down the stairs in heels with a cup of coffee in hand, talking over my shoulder and my heel caught and I fell backwards. I tried to get up and it really hurt. I’ve broken my toe.” Anyone who has ever stubbed a toe in the dark in the middle of the night on the way to the facilities can sympathize with toe pain, if not necessarily pain exacted for bad judgments past. The lady must watch her step.
When the winter rains come, a deluge usually follows. The Washington Post, which does not search for Democratic scandal, reports that the Hillary campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for research, loosely defined, that became that infamous campaign dossier with allegations that Mr. Trump cavorted with hookers in squalid sexual romps on a visit to Moscow. Mr. Trump says it was nonsense, and none of his accusers has proved otherwise.
Everybody can agree that our politics have become a confusion of intellectual chaos and anger inspired by malignant trivia, with serious men and women arguing about who should go to whose bathroom, whether multimillionaire athletes are entitled to kneel to support their politics, or what the president actually meant with his clumsy consolation of the widow of a soldier who died in defense of his country.
But the one constant in the heat and noise of the nation’s politics is the presence, for better and worse and nearly always worse, of Bill and Hillary Clinton. New controversy attends everything they do. They’re the guests who came to dinner and just won’t go home and let the rest of us clean up and count the silver. The nation gave its highest honor to Bubba, twice, and Hillary had two opportunities to follow him and failed, twice.
Coming so close but going home with no cigar is no doubt a bitter pill to have to swallow, but the Clintons can console themselves, like Midas, with the gold they’ve squirreled away. What Hillary owes the rest of us is her absence.
• Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.