So, I read the damn memo. (Apparently, there's another one- this time written by Democrats lurking out there as well, so I guess I'll have to read two memos.) If you haven't read the full text of the memo, well, The Atlantic went ahead and helpfully published it. So have at it and happy reading!
I honestly don't know what I was expecting from this much bally-hooed memo... reading the reaction over the weekend, it seemed that it was, as all things are these days, entirely dependent on where you fall on the political spectrum. The Mandela Effect has popped up now and again in the cultural/internet zeitgeist (most recently in an excellent episode of The X-Files) but while collective false memory is assuredly a thing, when it comes to our political discourse these days it's a little different. You can read the same memo and come to such wildly divergent conclusions, it's like both ends of the political spectrum live in parallel universes.
So, depending on who you talk too: if you're on the left side of things, the Memo was no big deal. Worse, it was a complete flop and could possibly provoke a Constitutional crisis, because Trump. The Trump Train is heading to Impeachment Town, courtesy of Russia. Hashtag Resistance. Hashtag Blue Wave, etc, etc.
If you're on the right side of things, then things are a little different. The Nunes Memo is proof positive of perfidy on the part of Democrats. We need an independent investigation (oh goodie, another one!) of FISA Abuses. The whole Russia investigation is just a partisan witch hunt to bring down the President. Hashtag MAGA Hashtag Trump Train, etc. etc.
Well, over here in the real world (because obviously, my reality is the prime universe and all y'all are living in alternate (or darkest) timelines.) I've read the memo and this is what I think:
1. The narrative keeps flipping on the FBI and I can't figure it out. No one else can either... I seem to remember whispers of anti-Clinton FBI agents working feverish for her indictment during the campaign, but wait! They were investigating Trump as well. Comey didn't indict Clinton in June and went from potential savior to villain (to the right) and then upstanding public servant to partisan asshole obviously out to get Clinton (to the left) in October when he tried to take a mulligan on his investigation by reopening it for like, half a second. Then Comey became a hero to the Left when Trump fired him (because he surely would have been retained by a President Clinton for her term, right?) My big takeaway: the somewhat disturbing news that the FBI was investigating both major campaigns and so far, has yet to produce a major crime from either campaign as a result of those investigations. Hardly reassuring on the part of the bureau.
2. If the Steele Dossier was the basis of the FISA warrants that is some horse shit right there... I know probable cause can be pretty fucking flimsy, but come on. Political opposition research funded by the Democratic Party? Give me a break. You know what this does underline the need for though? Serious reform of the FISA courts. Their purpose was to protect the rights of American citizens, yet the courts reject a whopping .03 percent of requests from the government, they seem like less a tool for accountability and more like a rubber stamp. If one good thing can come out of this mess, let it be serious FISA reform, please. I understand that in this day and age national security can be an important and time sensitive thing, but getting a warrant should not be fucking easy. Agents of the government at every level should have to work for the damn things and have very good reasons for getting one. Assuming these facts are correct (one must always assume these days), then the basis for the warrants was flimsy indeed.
3. Does the derail the Russia Investigation? No- because it seems to have originated with George Papadopoulos and his shenanigans rather than Carter Page, who was the subject of the warrants described in the memo.
4. That said, I no longer have any idea what the hell the Russia Investigation is supposed to be investigating. I'm assuming Mueller has a better idea of where he's going with this than the rest of us do, but right now it seems to be 'all sound and fury, signifying nothing.' Let's play Occam's Razor for a second, kids:
The Democratic Party nominates a candidate with baggage (a lot of it sexist, bullshit baggage, but baggage nonetheless). This candidate has their thumb on the scales during the primaries, pissing off a good chunk of their party as a result. This candidate dreams of flipping states like Texas and Georgia and just assumes that Michigan and Wisconsin will fall in line like they always do and doesn't bother to even campaign in either state after the Convention and loses both states by inches as a result.
A reality show billionaire hijacks the Republican Party and proceeds to break every rule of decorum and convention in the Traditional American Political Rulebook. Says shocking, offensive things that should, but don't implode his campaign. But, promises to 'put America' first, while all the while engaging in a massive conspiracy with a foreign government to flood the internet with fake news about his opponent that everyone believes, thus helping him to win the election.
Which is the simpler explanation? I know which one I'd pick.
I guess all I have to do now is sit and wait for the next memo to be released.