by Conrad Black
The two greatest political controversies in the western world in the last several years—the attempt to delegitimize President Trump and the question of Britain’s relations with the European Union—have generated similar reflexes and tactics in the opponents of the president and of Brexit. In the one case as in the other, the initial response of the political establishments in the two countries has been disbelief followed by a tenacious determination to undo the verdict of the voters.
There is also an important difference.
In the U.K., the referendum three years ago generated a 52 to 48 percent vote to leave the European Union, contrary to the wishes of the incumbent government, which was so committed to the losing “remain” side that Prime Minister David Cameron had to be replaced by Theresa May.
As prime minister, May made three catastrophic errors: she gambled on an election to strengthen her position and then lost her majority. The Conservatives have hung on since with the support of a small Protestant party from Northern Ireland. But the government has found it impossible to reconcile the majority in the country and among conservative voters who wish to leave Europe with a majority of the parliamentary party that wants to remain.
May tried three times unsuccessfully to get parliamentary approval for a compromise agreement which Europe had accepted, but no one in the U.K. had voted for compromise and it was really an attempt to remain described as as a departure. May then signaled that she had to have a deal, which emboldened Brussels (where the EU government sits) to be inflexible, although the departure of Britain will be a disaster for the EU—akin to Texas seceding from the United States. Donald Trump warned May it would not work and it didn’t.
Boris Johnson, the leading Conservative “leaver,” won the succession easily, among the M.P.s and the 160,000 party members. Johnson is much mocked as a clownish figure, but he is a highly intelligent man and deft showman who also turns out to be a tremendous vote-getter, as he demonstrated in twice winning the mayoralty of the generally leftist London as a conservative. He has said he would seek an agreement with Brussels but will not hesitate to leave the Union without one, on the latest deadline for an agreement, October 31.
The remainders have never apparently considered the possibility that leaving this socialistic and ever more centralized union is the best course for Britain. Nor, to judge from the utterances of their chief spokespeople, have they ever apparently considered that those who wish to leave are anything but unworldly, xenophobic, know-nothings and demagogues.
Thus, with barely 90 days before the U.K. leaves automatically by the simple operation of its referendum vote and the expiry of the agreed final deadline, the remainders still imagine that they can stop the inevitable by having voted in parliament that Britain must not leave without having negotiated a departure agreement. As a French newspaper remarked, this is like the passengers of the Titanic voting no confidence in the iceberg.
Even if dissident conservatives do something that has not occurred since Neville Chamberlain was forced to hand over power to Winston Churchill in May 1940, and vote against their own government in significant numbers, compelling an election, polls indicate that the leavers retain a slim margin in public opinion and more than 60 percent of the constituencies of the British Parliament voted to leave in the referendum. It is highly likely that Johnson and his government would be reelected, but even if they were not, another government could not be installed before October 31, as Parliament is in recess until early September.
Yet a regime of belligerent and fear-mongering disbelief continues.
The parallel in the United States is obvious. There is absolutely no question of the legitimacy of the results of the 2016 presidential election. And, practically unnoticed is the fact that even those most fiercely devoted to the destruction of the Trump presidency no longer claim that it was a false election result.
Andrew Weissman and the other fanatical partisans who conducted the so-called Mueller investigation and wrote the report of it, sent an infirm figurehead forward to defend their dirty work under withering examination before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week. They knew from the beginning, as the Strzok-Page texts confirm, that “there was no there there” on the bunk about Trump-Russian collusion, but spun the farce of the Mueller investigation out for two years trying to provoke Trump into an action that could be called obstruction of justice, and sold through the wall-to-wall Democratic chorus in the national media as a “high crime or misdemeanor” such as “treason or bribery” which the Constitution requires two-thirds of the Senate to be convinced of beyond a reasonable doubt to remove a president.
Obviously, as Trump did not take the bait, there was no chance of that, so the best they could do was to invent the preposterous notion that failure to “exonerate” the president of obstruction meant that the House of Representatives should pursue it through impeachment. It is such cynical nonsense they can’t get even the Democratic majority of the House to vote for an impeachment resolution, and are trying to substitute continued investigation in what is taintingly called an “impeachment inquiry,” to try to smear Trump enough to cost him reelection.
Mueller admitted to Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) last week that no prosecutor had ever officially expressed an inability to exonerate (and Ratcliffe was named director-designate of National Intelligence by Trump four days later). No one could exonerate Robert Mueller of murder either, but there’s no evidence of it.
This is a colossal fraud, and it won’t work. The public doesn’t buy it; the candidates aren’t talking about it; when Congress returns in September, Lindsey Graham’s Senate Judiciary Committee will grill the authors of the politicization of the intelligence agencies, the FBI, and other parts of the Obama Justice Department as well as the propagators of the false Steele dossier and the fraudulent FISA warrant applications. Graham (R-S.C.), will get the publicity, and the bare-faced liars who chair the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), will be talking to themselves about their “solid evidence” of the president’s crimes. Weissman and the lesser Democratic Torquemadas couldn’t find them; Nadler and Schiff can’t declare what their evidence is (because there is none).
This is the last echo of this attempted rape of the Constitution and no one will be listening when the Congress returns in September. They will listen to the Graham committee’s exposés of the Democrats who acted corruptly, and they will notice the indictments when the special counsel, (John Durham, who unlike Mueller does have full retention of his faculties), starts bringing them down.
The president deliberately has escalated the controversy by attempting to make the four extremist freshman Democratic congresswomen the real face of the Democrats, and by pointing out, in the case of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the inappropriateness of Cummings’ assault on the integrity of the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The president undoubtedly knows that he is playing with fire assaulting the holiest of the taboos of political correctness so explicitly, though his grasp of the political arithmetic is almost certainly correct. I assume he can reassure his own followers and whatever independent voters may be left in this fierce partisan crossfire that he is not racist. In sober times, it would be clear that no case whatever exists that he is a racist. But these are not sober times and he has contributed something to their insobriety, though—one must remember—in reaction to immense provocations.
Here is the great difference between the British and American political classes. The British political leadership was obtuse, arrogant, and bumbling, and tried to terrorize the country against Brexit. But they have operated within the law and parliamentary rules. The president’s opponents have committed crimes, including the confection and propagation of the falsehood that the president has committed crimes. The Democrats will pay the price of mortal political error.
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