The absence of an electrifying Washington moment in Wednesday’s two-stage testimony by (Robert) Mueller not only deprived Democrats of the crystallizing episode they needed to drive public opinion on impeachment, but it also meant Republicans had no reason to budge from their anti-impeachment stance.
-- Carl Hulse, The New York Times
By TOM HONIG
Is that what it takes to get anything done in politics these days? Do we really govern only by electrifying Washington?
Social media and cable news rely, more and more, on the zinger. Get the best three or four words you can and get them ready for video clips. If they're the perfect combination of wit, alliteration and nastiness, the video will spread across the media, maybe even making it to the apex -- the late-night comedy shows.
Admittedly I can appreciate a good one-liner. After all, I wrote headlines for years, always in search of a grabber. But that doesn't mean that the lack of electricity should doom public discussion and ultimately government actions.
There's a good deal of evidence that the electrifying moment is setting the agenda these days. The president is a master of the form. So is presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, who knew that by informing Joe Biden that she didn't think he was a racist actually was just another way of saying that he might be a racist. When she said it, she zoomed up the polls.
Maybe there is something positive about the quick hits. They move people at the time, but tomorrow will bring a new outrage, another zinger and another issue to think about. Maybe in this fast-paced environment a short attention span is a good thing.
But let's all take a moment to appreciate Robert Mueller. He wasn't on Team Red or on Team Blue. He sat there, unashamedly a man of another era in Washington, answering some pretty obnoxious questions with unsullied dignity.