That "we live in interesting times" is a stark and euphemistic understatement, if "interesting times" means, which it does, Donald Trump's era of bloated demagoguery, dazzling unfitness for office, unprecedented presidential ignorance, reactionary policy vindictiveness, perpetual mendacity, weekly threats of mass annihilation — a kind of permanent Cuban Missile Crisis — and proliferating proofs of a United States president as a weak-minded puppet of a hostile foreign power.
And where we go from here — from this abysmal hellhole of fetid Trumpism — presents two starkly antipodal worldviews, even though both are essentially correct. Things don't get much more interesting and intellectually intriguing than that.
In one corner we have the pithiness of the superb blog Lawfare: "As opening salvos go, [Bob Mueller's] is a doozy." Yesterday's bombshells obliterated Trump's twaddle that "he and his campaign had 'nothing to do with Russia.'" The three were acting in concert, as Mueller's mere opening salvos have demonstrated. "Any hope the White House may have had that the Mueller investigation might be fading away vanished Monday morning," deduces Lawfare. "Things are only going to get worse from here."
In the other corner we have National Review's David French, who, writing for the NY Times, bluntly declares that "On Monday, nothing changed…. Trump’s supporters will stand by their man." In the main that is true, though the fraying of his support will also continue. Reports NBC News on its latest poll: "The drop [in Trump's approval rating] has come from independents (who shifted from 41 percent approval in September to 34 percent now), whites (who went from 51 percent to 47 percent) and whites without a college degree (from 58 percent to 51 percent)." I suspect that as Mueller's artillery blasts away over the coming months, Trump's debased support will ultimately settle in Nixonian territory of 20s-something percentages. The real diehards will never fade away, since, as French notes, "partisans are now motivated mainly by antipathy toward the other side," and Trump "fights hard against the people they dislike the most."
Somewhere between Lawfare's professed doom and French's protective base is Elizabeth Williamson, of the NYT editorial board. She asks that which interests and intrigues the most: "The question now is: Will the Republican Party help get to the bottom of this, or will it give the president cover if he continues to try to undermine [Mueller's] investigation?" Darkly coloring her question is her observation that "At times Republican lawmakers echo Mr. Trump’s charges that the investigations are a 'witch hunt'…. This is a shameful and transparent effort to turn an investigation rooted in national security into a rank political spat and to tar Mr. Mueller." Nonetheless, Williamson then concludes with some goo-goo wistfulness. "Republicans should do everything in their power to ensure that this investigation continues to help Americans learn the truth."
That congressional Republicans would do everything in their power to uncover the truth of Trump's undeniable squalor is, as suggested above, a fetching but farcical notion. That does not dictate, however, that the thick red wall of Republican indifference to the manifest truth will stand undisturbed. Going into the 2018 midterms, it will be mountingly hazardous for purple-district Republican pols to defend a president whose approval rating is bottoming out in the 20s (if my projection is correct), or, at the very least, the lowest of 30s. They'd be tying themselves to an indefensible, even ludicrous, position in the general election — assuming they survived the primary, which of course would be more feasible in a swing district. Otherwise, what's the point of surviving a primary by going full crackpot to fend off a hard-right challenge if one will then surely lose the general?
Thus, while not denying the emotional essence of David French's yawn, I resolutely agree with Lawfare's prediction that for Trump, "Things are only going to get worse from here."