Jonathan S. Tobin in Haaretz on collusion, Netanyahu and Trump:

"If the Democrats’ fantasy had come true - that Mueller would make the bad dream of 2016 go away by declaring Trump guilty of collusion - it would have undermined Netanyahu’s efforts to tie himself to Trump, and lessened the value of the president’s endorsement. Trump isn’t completely in the clear with House Democrats and other prosecutors vowing to continue their investigations. But Mueller’s verdict makes those threats a problem for another day, and allows Netanyahu to accept Trump’s gifts - without having to worry that it reminds Israeli voters of his own legal woes.
But the greatest irony here is that having been judged innocent of colluding in Russian interference in U.S. politics, Trump is now free to go on trying to interfere in those of Israel.
Netanyahu’s opponents are within their rights to cry foul about this. But if that complaint falls on deaf ears, it’s because far from being another example of Trump trashing norms and traditions, his willingness to intervene in an Israeli election gives him something in common with his White House predecessors.
In 1992, the first President George Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker worked hard to undermine the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir because of differences about settlements and the peace process.
Four years later, U.S. efforts to interfere in the 1996 Israeli election were far more blatant. President Bill Clinton committed his prestige to the success of the Oslo Accords and was determined to do everything he could to prevent Netanyahu and the Likud from defeating Shimon Peres, who had succeeded Yitzhak Rabin after his tragic assassination. Clinton has admitted that he had pulled out the stops to boost Peres’ chances, including staging a summit with him prior to the election and then hosting him at the White House."


"After benefiting so many times in the past from American interventions, Netanyahu’s foes are in no position to complain about anything Trump does to help Netanyahu. But like the Democrats who were hoping Mueller would solve one of their chief problems for them, it turns out that Gantz was among the big losers when the special counsel’s report was handed down."

Read the article here.

The continuation of the status quo that was once derided as unsustainable may be the outcome of the Israeli elections in April.

Power for the sake of power is outdated. Quite a few of our contemporary leaders seek power in order to avoid prison. And the electorate is willing and able to help them.




Charlie Warzel in NYT on reality and expectations:

"The Mueller report and its attendant fallout are manifestations of a deeper phenomenon — one that feels particularly pervasive in modern American culture. When it comes to the biggest revelations, we care far more about the buildup than any of the actual findings. Perhaps it’s only natural, at a time when conspiracy theories are ascendant, that so much of our media and politics feel programmed by documents and investigations shrouded in secrecy. These documents captivate us most when they’re hypothetical, confidential, or unfinished. Their potential energy — proof of collusion could be just around the corner! — perfectly fit the ‘choose your own reality’ of our times. A Mueller report can be whatever you imagine it to be. It’s only when it’s released that it seems to lose its power."

Read the article here.

A friend commented: 'Sounds like literature.'

I would say: Your significant other can be whatever you imagine him to be, until he comes home then he seems to lose his power.




My friend Mark Schaevers, who is working on the Hugo Claus biography, said today on the train from Ostend to Brussels: "A biography is gossip with some footnotes."




The most interesting paragraph from the NY article on the Mueller report:

"Weighing that principle against the public’s right to know is even more fraught in the president’s case. If Mr. Mueller declined to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Trump, he might have been guided not by lack of evidence, but by the Justice Department’s legal opinions that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The department’s Office of Legal Counsel has repeatedly advised that the stigma and burden of being under prosecution would damage the president’s ability to lead."

Read the article here.

More realpolitik: forget lack of evidence, just don't indict sitting presidents. And let's not forget, it's a huge part of the American people who brought us this catastrophe. A small comfort: life without catastrophe is impossible and probably also undesirable. In other words, it could have been worse.