The competition for Washington’s most irresponsible politician is fierce. But two top Democrats -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler -- must be considered the current front-runners.
Recently Nadler and Pelosi have peddled the notion that our nation is mired in a “constitutional crisis.” These supposed “grown-ups” in D.C., it seems, are throwing just one more Trump tantrum.
Nadler, with Pelosi’s support, maintains our 232-year-old effort at self-government is about to implode because he cannot read the full, unredacted report by Robert Mueller -- even though Attorney General Bill Barr, who had no obligation to make it public, has revealed as much as the law allows. He also has offered Pelosi, Nadler and other senior Democrats a private screening of 99% of it. They have refused.
Instead, Nadler’s committee has voted Barr in contempt of Congress, and he is being threatened with jail for not complying -- all because he withheld materials that must be kept secret, according to rules set by Congress, to avoid compromising grand jury proceedings, telling our adversaries things we don’t want them to know, shredding people’s privacy, or undermining ongoing investigations.
The argument is asinine: Violate the law, Mr. Attorney General, or we’ll put you in jail.
Yet it makes about as much sense as anything else Democrats in Congress propose these days.
Remember: Mueller came up empty after spending 22 months and more than $30 million, utilizing 19 lawyers and nearly 40 FBI agents, issuing more than 2,800 subpoenas, interviewing more than 500 witnesses, executing nearly 500 search warrants.
Yes, ultimately 34 people were indicted, including some of President Donald Trump’s associates.
But no one -- not a single American -- was implicated or charged with conspiring with Russian operatives to steal the 2016 election.
After such an exhaustive inquiry, Nadler’s threats to Barr over the report demonstrate -- take your pick -- lunacy, childishness or deviousness.
Nadler’s agenda is clear: put politics above the country’s institutional health.
That said, however, one might argue a “crisis” is nigh.
Under Trump, some Democrats have routinely called for his impeachment simply because he says things they don’t like; some have encouraged invoking the 25th Amendment to take him out; a former Democratic congressman, who holds the record for the longest tenure in Congress, has called for abolishing the Senate; Democrats have filed bills to abolish the Electoral College; they have called for increasing and packing the U.S. Supreme Court; they’ve called for overturning decades of privacy laws to peek at the president’s tax returns, more out of spite than legitimate inquiry.
So who exactly is veering us through the constitutional guardrails?
Our country has survived: a horiffic civil war; two world wars; a deep, decade-long global depression; the deaths of eight presidents in office, including four by assassination; two impeachments and one near-one; and a two-week standoff with our most powerful geopolitical rival, which planted nuclear missiles just 90 miles from our shore. Those were actual crises, and reflecting on their significance demonstrates this hissy fit over the Mueller Report is the most ridiculously overblown thing in Washington since Obama put on a tan suit.
Bill Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editorial page editor of The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.