Regular readers of this blog will recognize the name “Esther Terry.” In 1992, Esther invited me to join the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, and was Chair of the department during the entirety of my wonderful sixteen years there. Esther grew up in rural North Carolina in the town of Wise, near the Virginia border, and after an undergraduate degree at Bennett College in Greensboro [where she participated in the famous Woolworth Lunch Counter sit-in] and an M. A. at UNC Chapel Hill, she came north to Amherst, did a doctorate in English, and went on to be a founding member of the Afro-Am Department. Despite this sophisticated educational career, Esther retains some of the linguistic tropes of her youth. Faced with a departmental mess, she would say, “Well, we shall just have to make chicken salad out of this chicken shit.” In this post, I propose to make chicken salad out of the pile of chicken shit we have just been handed by Robert Mueller and William Barr.
We are all going to have to survive the choruses of self-congratulation from Trump and his supporters. If I were a religious man, I would say that a little humility is good for the soul, but since I am a non-believer, I will just call it what it is: chicken shit.
However, I do honestly see the makings of a quite edible chicken salad here. Let me explain. If the report had been as devastating to Trump as we all hoped and expected, Congress would have had no choice but to move toward impeachment. It is still possible that the full report, when it is released, as it inevitably must be, will make a chargeable case for obstruction of justice. But it will not matter. The headline is “NO COLLUSION” and that is all that anyone will read or hear.
Impeachment would have been a political disaster, I have always believed. It would pass in the House, fail in the Senate, and leave Trump, at some point next fall, triumphant. What is infinitely more important, it would leave his supporters maximally enraged and energized, and bring every last one of them to the polls in 2020. By an odd quirk of American political life, Trump’s victory now will calm his followers and lower their voting percentages. Contrariwise, his triumph and the current humiliation of all the rest of us will keep alive the extraordinary energy now manifesting itself on the left. Deprived of the quick fix of impeachment, we will be driven by our anger to vote in record numbers.
Trump will not be able to run on today’s victory because it has happened too soon. There are nineteen months until the election, and “No Collusion” will be old news by June.
Now, would anyone care for a nice cold glass of Riesling with your scoop of chicken salad?