Trump vs. (insert Democrat here)

Daniel Henninger:

In the week since release of the Mueller report, Democrats and the media have pulled one of the greatest sleight-of-hand tricks in U.S. political history.

Across the nearly two years of the Mueller investigation, one question sat immovably before the country’s voters: Did Donald Trump collude with Russia to steal the 2016 election?

Suddenly, like magic, we have a new, nonstop “narrative”: Donald Trump is “unfit to govern” and should be impeached for obstructing justice.

You won’t find a more exact comment on what they’ve done than this line from “The Usual Suspects”: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist … and like that, poof, he’s gone.” Poof, the “Russian collusion narrative” is gone.

Just to make sure I haven’t lost my mind, let me list for the record from the Mueller report’s table of contents the relevant collusion chapter: “IV. Russian Government Links to and Contacts with the Trump Campaign.”

After that, from “Campaign Period September 2015–November 8, 2016” comes the report’s details of its investigation targets, each the subject of an uncountable number of media reports and cable TV commentaries, all strongly suggesting collusion: Trump Tower Moscow Project, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Dimitri Simes and the Center for the National Interest, June 2016 Meeting at Trump Tower, Events at the Republican National Convention, Post-Convention Contacts with Kislyak, Paul Manafort.

Morning, noon and night the media pounded that stuff into America’s consciousness. The Mueller report’s conclusion about the Trump campaign’s criminal complicity with Russia in each of these instances was: none, none, none, none, none, none, none and none.

But now they’ve tossed all that down the memory hole and replaced it with the story line that the second half of the Mueller report proves Mr. Trump “unfit” to be president. He raged. He told lies. He told his people to lie. In short, he’s too odious to be president.

Perhaps. Or perhaps the decision tree most voters work their way through in casting a vote for president is more complex than the Trump opposition’s limitless obsession with his personality.

Wasn’t Mr. Trump widely described as unfit when in 2015 he said tortured Vietnam War prisoner John McCain was no hero? You can’t go much lower than that. Or the awful day the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced? Still, he somehow defeated 16 other, presumably “fit” Republican primary candidates. And then he won a fitness contest with a former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who with perfect absence of irony now says Mr. Trump deserved to be indicted for obstruction of justice.

Character surely counts for something, though the last choirboy the voters elected president was Jimmy Carter, who got tossed out after one term by voters who thought that reversing a stagnant economy with high inflation and Americans held hostage by Iran trumped a president’s personal rectitude. The unemployment rate recently has been at a nearly 50-year low.

Since the subject has been raised, one may ask: How “fit” to govern the U.S. are Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke or Pete Buttigieg.

Among them, these presidential candidates have proposed or embraced Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, massive college-debt forgiveness and free public-college tuition—with a fanciful, wholly irresponsible cost in multi-trillions of dollars. By comparison, Donald Trump’s $5.6 billion “wall” looks like fiscal austerity. Still, he’s the one beyond the pale of fitness.

Messrs. O’Rourke and Buttigieg, as far as anyone can tell, stand for pretty much nothing but personality. In their case the argument is that voters may now value celebrity over experience. So much for fitness to govern the U.S.

Governance matters. Success at governance—running a country, state or city—should indeed be a measure of political fitness. If so, fitness to govern looks to be in short supply in potholed New York City, homicidal Chicago, needle-park San Francisco and Baltimore, with its five police chiefs in the past five years.

All these cities, protectorates of Democratic governance, are filled with upscale progressives convinced Donald Trump is morally unfit to govern, even as they step around and over the mentally ill homeless lying abandoned on their sidewalks.

On this matter of morality, one more thing. As we’ve written before, there is a straight-line relationship between the country’s hyperpoliticized culture and why many people voted for Donald Trump no matter what. That is, what the left has done to the culture makes Mr. Trump’s persona largely irrelevant to them.

None of this means Mr. Trump is coasting to re-election. The 2020 campaign is a jump ball. It is true that Republicans lost heavily in the midterm elections because of suburban women grossed out by Mr. Trump, who personifies Lenin’s idea of “one step forward, two steps back.”

All presidencies have flaws and failures. But with the collusion narrative finally ended, please spare us two years of the unfit-to-govern sequel.

Nearly three years after Trump was elected, Democrats and other liberals still obtusely fail to understand why Trump got elected and why Trump’s supporters still support him.

 

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