Releasing the memo only a few weeks into the right-wing whisper campaign involving its unspeakable contents was an especially crude and wholly unforced error. Trump should have waited longer. Unreleased, clouded in mystery and discussed in tones alternately hushed and clamorous with lunatic speculation, it could have been bigger than Watergate. It could have been bigger than the Gunpowder Plot. It could have been, as far as ordinary Americans are concerned, as dark and sinister and dangerous as the GOP needs it to be. Actually letting everyone read it — and see what a lot of nothing it amounts to — gives the entire game away.
What Republicans ought to have done is to invent a series of official-sounding procedural reasons for delaying the memo’s release. Get Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have never missed an opportunity to genuflect before the altar of secrecy, to put out statements saying that “at this time release of the contents of the memo would pose a grave threat to national security.” Keep whispering in the ears of Sean Hannity and Breitbart editors. Maybe even convince a few mainstream conservative #NeverTrumpers that Nunes really did uncover activity to which “worrisome” and other unfavorable but essentially noncommittal adjectives could be applied. Make it something that serious, thoughtful people could afford to have opinions about. Don’t let speculation boil over, but keep it simmering steadily until, say, two weeks before the midterm election. Then release the memo in a heavily redacted version — missing at least an entire page — with even some of the obviously innocuous names blacked over.