While it is still possible that Mueller will come up with something substantive, or that something flimsy drawn from some version of Mueller’s report will be seized upon by Democrats as evidence if they attempt to impeach Trump next year, it will ultimately be irrelevant. Impeaching the president and removing him from office is a campaign promise on which many Democrats are running this fall. They don’t care what is or is not in the report any more than those of us who have grown impatient with all the lunatic decontextualized speculation about Trump and Russia do. Most Americans made up their mind about these questions long ago. The difference is that unlike professional politicians, hundreds of thousands of serious Mueller watchers are actually invested in the reality of the collusion theory. For them the truth might be painful.
There are some obvious lessons here. One is that our enemies, real or perceived, are not all working together to destroy all the things we love. Another is that simple explanations are better than complicated ones — an insincere campaign that doesn’t even try in the states that it needs to win is probably going to lose, especially to an opponent who has broken with his party in historic ways in order to appease voters in the states in question. The last and most important is that politics is not an episode of The West Wing: Do-gooders rolling up their shirt sleeves and completing some boring procedural task — writing a complicated report, polishing the text of a rousing speech — in between monologues is rarely how the good guys beat the bad guys.