by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rich Lowry of National Review Online offers a brief history lesson to those who believe special counsel Robert Mueller faces inordinate criticism of his investigation into Trump administration activity.
No matter the criticisms directed his way by Republicans, Robert Mueller should count himself lucky: He’s not Ken Starr.
The punctilious, mild-mannered independent counsel appointed by a three-judge panel in the 1990s, Starr investigated all manner of Bill Clinton scandals, most spectacularly the Monica Lewinsky affair. …
… A former Clinton adviser said Starr’s investigation “smacks of Gestapo” and “outstrips McCarthyism.” The estimable historian Garry Wills mused that it shouldn’t be Bill Clinton, but Ken Starr who should be impeached. Anthony Lewis, a liberal lion at the New York Times, opined that Starr’s “abuses were driven by an obsessive — and, for a prosecutor, entirely inappropriate — determination to force President Clinton from office by any means available.”
On and on it went. It was trench warfare over Starr’s every move. In a signature piece of writing during the Lewinsky scandal, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd managed to portray Starr, not Bill Clinton, as the sex-obsessed goat, even though the former judge wasn’t the one chasing interns around his desk.
This history is relevant because it shows the forgetfulness of Donald Trump’s critics, who seem to believe that it’s unprecedented for a special counsel to attract the ire of a president’s defenders. In an often abnormal time, the most normal thing that’s happened over the past six months is that attitudes toward the Mueller investigation have broken down along partisan lines.