So, what’s the problem? Like with the Iraq War, it’s premature to claim a “win.” The Mueller report has not been released for anyone, other than perhaps Barr himself, to make an independent judgment. Declaring victory also significantly increases the pressure to release the report, although it’s hard to imagine the pressure any higher than it already is.
The second problem is an opportunity squandered. And a new CNN poll, released Wednesday, indicates that despite the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, the opinion of most Americans has not changed. In other words, the reaction from the White House has not been particularly persuasive — Trump’s conservative base is still with him, the Democrats are defiant and the middle remains offended by the high-handed nature of everything he does. Swing voters, I imagine, are saying he may not have colluded with the Russians, but he’s still acting far from presidential.
So, what should he have done? First and foremost, he should have identified the true enemy in this crisis (hint: it’s not the media) — the Russians. The President needed to state clearly that American democracy was attacked and that there is nothing more important than protecting our political viability. No ambiguity, no hedging and no articulating what Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks or referencing the 400-pound guy in his mother’s basement.