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The League of Morons

Empower Wisconsin | May 28, 2020

By Kyle Smith / National Review 

Let’s look back at the two and a half years when the greatest country on earth went crazy. What was that all about? How did it happen? How could so much have happened based on so little? Did we learn anything? It’ll take a keenly observant artist to put it all in perspective. Fortunately two artists have already done so. The Coen Brothers made a movie about the whole shambles back in 2008.

Twelve years ago Joel and Ethan Coen’s wack comedy Burn After Reading didn’t strike me as anything much, with its random and grotesque plot twists, but today it looks like it so perfectly understood how Washington works that it provided the template for how L’Affaire Mueller would play out. (Spoilers follow; the film is streaming on Starz.)

At the end of the movie, a disbelieving C.I.A. chief played by J. K. Simmons contemplates the 90 minutes of total insanity we’ve just seen, with several lives violently ended and others permanently damaged because of a misunderstanding on the part of a pair of idiotic gym rats, and says, “I’m f***ed if I know what we did.” 

Somewhere out there in Mueller land some earnest career public servant must be saying the exact same thing. People were interrogated by the FBI, lives were ruined, jail terms were sternly handed down, Michael Flynn was stripped of $5 million and demolished. All of this happened . . . why? Because of a . . . rumor about a pee tape? Disbelief that Donald Trump could have been legitimately elected president without some nefarious foreign interference? Anger about John Podesta’s emails leaking out because he fell for a dopey phishing scheme? Fretting about Russian Facebook memes featuring Jesus arm-wrestling Satan?

Can wise, dedicated, highly trained public servants really have allowed themselves to get torched in this moronic inferno? “You’re part of a league of morons,” says the Princeton-educated career CIA analyst Osbourne, played by John Malkovich, when he thinks he has sorted out all of the fallacies that have led him to train a pistol on a lovelorn gym manager in his basement. 

But the joke’s on “Ozzy,” as colleagues call him. He’s the biggest moron of all because his miscalculations are what got the whole thing going. If he had accepted a transfer from the CIA to the State Department rather than making his wife furious by quitting his job in a huff, and if he hadn’t taken to writing his memoirs as a self-deluding form of payback against the Agency, he wouldn’t be facing the fate that awaits him, which is getting shot to death in his bathrobe. Personal trainers, Treasury Department security officers, the Ivy League WASP aristocracy at Langley: They’re all part of the Washington League of Morons.

Read more at National Review.

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