MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2022
A vast nation, coming undone: The new arrival on the front has choked off all other conversation.
The conversation about this arrival sketches the shape of a very large nation in serious disarray.
The conceptual chaos is general! On CNN's State of the Union, manifest nonsense like this was treated as if it made sense:
JENNINGS (8/14/22): I mean, I sort of felt this week like we're at the circus now. We're all under the Big Top.
And this can only end one of two ways: He's got to be indicted, or Merrick Garland has to resign.
You can't raid the president's house, the former president, and possible future candidate, say to the American people, "We think he's violating three different laws," and then do nothing.
So this has—to me—
KEILAR: Was it justified?
JENNINGS: Well, yes. If you think there are classified documents—and I totally get, if you have got top-secret information—which we don't know what it is, by the way—but if you got these documents, and they're not supposed to be out in the open, absolutely.
But this cannot end in any—in any other way. I mean, how could it possibly end with just, "Well, OK, we got them back, and it's over now?" That—there's no going back now.
Scott Jennings is CNN's resident conservative commentator. CNN turns to Jennings for conservative reaction from someone who isn't out of his mind.
In fairness, Jennings was certainly right on one score. He was right when he said that we, the conceptually scattered American people, are all under the Big Top now.
Scott Jennings was certainly right when he said that our world's a circus! But in his own turn in the center ring, Jennings offered this:
He said the search of Mar-a-Lago was justified—but also, he said that Merrick Garland may have to resign!
Jennings said Garland will have to resign if Donald Trump isn't indicted. Please don't make us run through the various ways this reasoning doesn't make sense.
Now that you've let that cup pass from our lips, we'll outline one such possibility. In some world, it could turn out that Trump was being misinformed by his Florida lawyers, at least one of whom is a fairly obvious nut.
It could turn out that Donald J. Trump actually didn't know that there were top-secret documents on his property, among his possessions. This is one of the three million possibilities which could turn out to be true.
On the other hand, was Trump knowingly holding those top-secret documents? We have no way of knowing, but that's an obvious possibility too! Indeed, here's how far NBC's Ken Delanian was willing to go as he imagined some possibilities on yesterday's Meet the Press:
DILANIAN (8/14/22): There's so much we don't know because we haven't seen that affidavit of probable cause where the FBI lays out the justification [for conducting the search].
There's a couple of possibilities here. One is that this was just about getting the documents back. The FBI has their documents. That's the end of it.
Another is that there were crimes committed here about the mishandling of information, and we'll see a case go forward.
And then the third, most ominous possibility is it's something even worse than that. It's about: What was Donald Trump doing with those documents? Why did he have them there? Some of these documents would be worth billions of dollars to our adversaries, Andrea.
Speaking with guest host Andrea Mitchell, Dilanian floated the possibility that the documents in question could have been worth billions of dollars to Trump on the open market. (Stephanie Ruhle had floated the same possibility last Friday night.)
Is it possible that Trump was planning to sell those documents to foreign adversaries? Stating the ominously obvious, that's a possibility too—though that doesn't mean that it's true!
Jennings was right in one basic way, Dilanian in another. Jennings said we're all under the Big Top now. Dilanian stressed the fact that "there's so much we [still] don't know."
What are some of the things we don't know? We still don't know how many top-secret documents were found at Mar-a-Lago.
We're told that Trump had five "sets" of top-secret documents—but how many top-secret documents actually come in a "set?"
Did Trump have thousands of pages of top-secret materials, lugged away in five large boxes? Or did he possibly have twelve to fifteen sheets of top-secret paper, marbled through a huge array of White House menus, weather maps and letters from Kim-Jong Un?
How many documents is five "sets?" Is it a very large amount, or is it just a little?
The conceptual weaknesses of us the people is such that we've never so much as seen this question arise. For today, let it represent the three million other things we the former people still don't know.
We the former people have now become we the disconnected tribes. Depending on which tribe we're in, we've heard different claims, and believe different things, about what happened last week.
We're living deep inside a Babel under a three (million)-ring Big Top. The intellectual skills of our upper-end scribes offer us No Way Out.
Hillary's emails are back in this world. So are a wide array of bogus or unfortunate claims, most of them, though not all, from The Other Side.
The chaos was general on C-Span this weekend. Within the upper reaches of cable news, things weren't ginormously better.
Meanwhile, there was George Will, making an eye-catching claim about us the American people. We clicked his link, then we clicked and we clicked and we clicked again.
We were swirled around and around, in a brain-dead circle. Such is our discourse now.
Tomorrow: Where to begin?