Farmington’s Walmart has been offering The Mueller Report for $11.98, a bargain for 728 pages in fine print. There’s no index so readers must read through hundreds of pages to locate what interests them. That makes me wonder about Walmart’s management. How many purchasers of this thick rectangle of tedium did they expect to attract in Farmington?

Back in April, before the full report was released impeachment zealots were disappointed at the Mueller’s failure to expose President Trump as Vladimir Putin’s tool. The publication the dull, dragged-out full report failed to energize the impeachment enthusiasts. So they built their hopes on Mueller’s personal testimony about Trump’s schemes to obstruct the inquiry.

Because few Americans have read Mueller’s report, the impeachers  aimed to put it on television in a selection of prickly little pieces and get their star witness to confirm them. This, in turn, would provide the Muddy Stream Media with telling sound bites.

Unfortunately their star disappointed them. Here are some responses from prominent Left-lurchers:

Harvard’s leading Trump-hater, Professor Tribe: “Much as I hate to say it, this morning’s hearing was a disaster…Far from breathing life into his damning report, the tired Robert Mueller sucked the life out of it.”

Obama’s campaign strategist David Axelrod: “This is very, very painful.”

Michael Moore: “A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions…”

Nick Kristov of the New York Times: “Robert Mueller was the most reluctant of witnesses at the Congressional hearings on Wednesday, and he sometimes seemed to be desperately hoping that SEAL Team 6 would rush in and extricate him from the tormentors interrogating him.”

Todd S. Purdum, writing in The Atlantic: “How did he look? (Old, halting, at times confused). What did he say? (Not enough). How did he say it? (Monosyllabically, whenever possible).”

They had to remind him six times to speak into the microphone. He looked lost while browsing the binder containing his report. He asked for questions to be repeated 48 times and dodged either 206 or 198 queries. He seemed to have only vague memory of the report’s contents.

If you assume that the primary objective of the hearings was to damage Trump, then they failed. According to the Nielsen statistics Mueller’s congressional testimony failed to match the viewers for other recent political spectacles. It had 13 million watchers as opposed to the 19.5 million who watched James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, describe his dealings with President Trump in June 2017.

More directly to the point a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted immediately after the testimony, showed minimal impact on impeachment enthusiasm.

Mr. Purdum attempted a kind of rescue operation in “Robert Mueller and the Tyranny of ‘Optics’” His thesis is in his subtitle “The commentariat’s focus on performance over substance is the kryptonite of the modern media age.” This makes a lot of sense. The predominance of appearance in political discussion is not a boost to rational argument. On the other hand, Purdum’s objective is damage control. His effort to rescue some substance from the Democratic Party disaster carefully skirts around the fact that the Democratic strategy was to provide lots of useful optics to give some zip to he dull, drawn-out, complex report that few people will read despite Walmart’s effort to make it available.

John Frary of Farmington is a former candidate for U.S. Congress, a retired history professor, an emeritus Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United, a Maine Citizen’s Coalition Board member, and publisher of FraryHomeCompanion.com. He can be reached at jfrary8070


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