I had to laugh, not only because this is a problem entirely of President Donald Trump's own making, but because it tells us political karma is alive and well. CNN reports:
"Though President Donald Trump has claimed "complete and total exoneration" based on Attorney General William Barr's summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the American public disagrees, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
"A majority (56%) says the President and his campaign have not been exonerated of collusion, but that what they've heard or read about the report shows collusion could not be proven. Fewer, 43%, say Trump and his team have been exonerated of collusion."
Well, Attorney General William Barr could release the whole report so people can read for themselves what Mueller wrote. Trump’s victory lap while Barr has intruded onto the special counsel’s and Congress’s turf — to exonerate the president — doesn’t sit well with a lot of voters, it seems.
This is also what comes of making up a non-crime and then absolving oneself of it. Voters feel free to make up their own definition of “collusion” (e.g., meeting with Russians who are interfering with our election process) and free to believe there is evidence of their kind of collusion.
Moreover, this is how the obliteration of objective reality, a tool of Trump and authoritarian bullies the world over, comes back to haunt him. Partisans now reject any new information that doesn't comport with their preferences. Since most Americans don't like Trump, most prefer to believe he is guilty of something or another.
More from CNN's report: "At this point, without the full report having been released, just 13% say that Mueller's findings will sway their decision about whom to support in 2020 either way, with 7% saying it makes them more apt to back the President, and 6% less likely to do so." It won't even affect how they vote in 2020: "A combined 86% say that they had already figured out whether they would vote for or against Trump, or that the investigation won't matter to them even though they are undecided now."
It is also quite possible that voters blur the distinction between collusion and obstruction, the latter of which we learned from the snippet of Mueller’s report quoted by Barr — that Trump was explicitly not exonerated. (If only a fragment of bad news can reaffirm Trump’s conduct was just as voters expected, imagine the wealth of corroboration they would find in the full report.)
We also find it amusing that, once more, Trump confuses his own hunger for revenge, vindication and reaffirmation with good politics. An "exoneration" that isn't an exoneration on obstruction and which, in any event, voters don't believe, is not going to save him in 2020. However, once more running on abolishing the Affordable Care Act (throw in Medicare cuts!) as part of his base-pleasing politics is just the sort of thing that sunk Republicans in 2018 and may spell disaster for the party in 2020.
For Trump, it’s all about him; for voters, it’s usually about them.
Democrats would be smart to start a 20-month campaign to make clear that Republicans, if reelected, will take away your health care and your aging parents’ health care as well. It’s a real no-brainer. I mean it would be like promising to cut support for the Special Olympics, or implementing tariffs that hurt farmers and workers in industries that use steel or aluminum. Oh, wait ...
In any event, Trump’s reliance on Barr’s transparently political letter seems misplaced. A decent majority of voters don’t believe anything he says — even when he strays in the vicinity of the truth. Ah well, live by 9,000-plus lies, politically die by them.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.