Suspicion as deep and wide as the Potomac River is flowing through the corridors of power in Washington. Set loose by hardened opponents of President Trump with charge and countercharge about suspected collusion with Russians bent on cooking an American election, it threatens to swamp the swamp, if that’s possible, and drown us all in endless acrimony.
It’s no comfort for a paranoiac to tell him it’s all in his head. Fear of what lurks in the shadows can sometimes be dispelled by bright light, but not always. With Robert Mueller, the special counsel, digging ever deeper into dry holes for evidence of Trump misbehavior, the president should cut through the murk and make public the documents backing the original allegation that his election was the work of collusion with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Americans can then distinguish the mischief-makers from the innocents.
Evidence of paranoia blankets the nation’s capital like autumn leaves. Ideological liberals who call themselves “progressives” have teamed up with allies in the media to spin tales about a crazy Republican commander in chief complaining that “the snakes are everywhere.”
Rattlers, cottonmouth moccasins, copperheads and venomous vipers of several stripes, lethal all, are said to have found comfortable nests near the Oval Office. How else to explain that lurid and anonymous op-ed in The New York Times, which the newspaper said was written by “a senior official” in the bosom of the Trump administration. Conveniently, the op-ed seconds the imaginative insider account of chaos by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post in his new book, “Fear.”
The disloyalty described by Mr. Woodward, argues Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, means serious adults must invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
Paranoia is not the province of only one party. Democrats betray a suspicion of the very authors of the American democracy, the Founding Fathers themselves. The Founding Fathers were actually racists, misogynists and other bad people in the Democratic telling. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, unbosomed himself of such fears last week in a shrill and silly attack on Judge Brett Kavanaugh: “We know our Founders and their values and their ideals, but we also know that they were flawed and you can see that in the documents. Native Americans were referred to as savages, women weren’t referred to at all, African Americans were referred to as fractions of human beings.” He all but demanded to know whether the judge has a white bedsheet with two eyeholes hidden in his linen closet.
In an earlier and innocent age, Martin Luther King wrote that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s a comforting thought, often cited by Barack Obama, whose ascendance was to be the opening act whetting a public appetite for the first woman president.
Then the Donald happened. For followers of “progressive” providence, the election of another old white guy was as tragic as the fall of Adam. Unnerved by his post-presidential irrelevance (it happens to all presidents), Mr. Obama presented his own conspiracy theory, trying to rally his party for the midterm elections. “Over the past few decades, the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party,” he told an audience of Illinois college students the other day.
Mr. Trump responded with his signature counterpunch, saying he tried to listen to Mr. Obama’s speech but the former president put him to sleep. Mr. Trump said the Justice Department should unearth the mole who wrote of the sabotage within.
We understand the president’s frustration, but that’s not a good idea. The infamous dossier detailing Trump campaign collusion with Russia has been exposed as the work of the Justice Department and the FBI. Congressional investigators trying to find the source of the dossier were led to the back door of the Justice Department, the FBI and even the special counsel. What would a tainted conclusion prove?
A dozen Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, asked Mr. Trump to declassify the documents that led — or misled — to Robert Mueller’s wandering investigation. The president should comply, letting the chips fall where they will. Joseph Heller described times like these in his dark novel “Catch-22” and observed: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”