Over the last couple days I’ve read a dozen or more articles and newsletter briefs which describe the purported political disaster that is the Biden classified documents issue, then explain how it bears no comparison to the ongoing Mar-a-Lago scandal and then note that the difference and lack of comparison actually don’t matter because that’s how it is. Punchbowl runs through a list of Democratic lawmakers who are barely willing to make the distinction in public, let alone defend the President from the adverse comparisons. The headline of this Dan Balz column perhaps sums it up most nicely: Biden, Trump cases aren’t alike. The political system doesn’t care.
The deputy editor of the Post opinion section goes so far as to say that the Biden documents “should spell the end of any realistic prospect of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump” and lauds this as a wonderful thing since such charges would have been terrible for the country. Arrrghghghghg.
To state the obvious succinctly: we are the political system. We shouldn’t be afraid of stating clearly and loudly what happened here. Indeed, much of the press momentum behind this story is driven by Democratic sheepishness about it. Republican elected officials are going to town on it while Democrats try to avoid eye contact. That’s embarrassing. One instance here is at most administrative sloppiness; the other is willful theft of government documents, refusal to return them, claims to own U.S. government documents, ongoing obstruction of government attempts to retrieve the documents. Any of these Democratic elected officials should be spending whatever microphone time they have on this reiterating the gravity of Trump’s offenses.
Clearly, they think they are gaining some credibility or credit for evenhandedness but lying or actively misleading people — which is what they are doing — doesn’t make you credible. It certainly gains no credit in a capital still mostly wired for the GOP. We can’t dictate how the “political system” operates but we can choose what part we play in it.
Late Update: I was heartened to see this concise description of the issue from the defrocked conservatives at The Bulwark: “This is really bad because people are too dishonest or too stupid to grasp the difference between Biden’s documents and Trump’s documents.“