In the interests of keeping different things clear, I'll do a post now about where I'm at with the
1: Why I'm so concerned about the Senate as an Institution.
I've thought for a while now that the worst harm that the Republicans have done to the country over the last 10-15 years has been the damage they've done to democratic institutions. It's a harm that's harder to see than a lot of the other, more tangible, stuff. But it's also one that's harder to fix, and that at the same time makes it harder to undo the other things.
One of the areas that they've harmed - with the harm beginning in the 90s - is in converting congressional investigations into tools for partisan political gain. There are times (Watergate; Iran-Contra; Russian influence on elections) when we need either a bipartisan or fully independent investigator to tell the American people what happened, what went wrong, and what (if anything) can be done to fix it. Right now, we don't have that ability. The Republicans in Congress aren't allowing it to happen there, and they and their media allies are doing their best to ensure that whatever the independent counsel reveals isn't going to be believed by the Republican base. That's bad.
Maybe we'll never be able to recover that ability, even to the limited extent it existed before now. It's possible that the ship has sailed. It's clear that recovering any ability to work bipartisanly will require a substantial exercise of leadership by both parties. One party will, while in the minority, have to be able to offer to work together in good faith rather than simply banking wrongs to use to fire up their base as a means of regaining the majority; the other will have to be willing to accept that when in the majority. So, yeah, it's quite plausibly a crack dream. But I think it's a goal that shouldn't be sacrificed.
And I think it's important enough that my default position is to oppose moves that push us farther from that point unless there are extremely compelling reasons for the move. Establishing a norm that either party can unilaterally choose to selectively release information (IMO) pushes things away from effective investigations and toward dysfunction, and does so in a way that will be harder to fix for future investigations.
2: Why I'm unpersuaded, frustrated, and angered by "the Republicans have shown us that these tactics are the way to victory" arguments.
A Republican-like party advancing progressive policies instead of regressive policies might be an improvement on the current situation, but it's not an outcome that I can view as a "victory." It's a defeat. In many ways, it's a defeat that's worse than what we're experiencing now.
I see tactics that involve changing or disregarding rules to obtain power as harmful to the country in and of themselves, in addition to being harmful because they let the Republicans advance harmful policies. I don't see how those tactics become less harmful if they are used to allow Democrats to advance helpful policies.
3: Why, despite 1 & 2, I've moved (some) from my full-throated opposition to the release from yesterday.
The first two points are the reasons that I'm almost always going to be opposed to politicians who do things that flaunt prior institutional norms. For me to budge on that, I've got to be convinced that there's a compelling reason beyond short-term political gain to do it.
Tek's mention of selective releases allowed me to make a connection that wasn't made when Stern's more general mention of "truth" failed to penetrate my skull. Full public release of material is a counter to selective release of information. More than that, it's probably the only available counter even when there's little chance that the other side will read the full information (I withdraw and apologize for my prior comment suggesting otherwise). That's a compelling reason beyond short term political gain.
4: Why none of the above considered the content of the release.
I'm relatively confident that there's nothing in there that Mueller doesn't have access to - and he's probably had access to most (if not all) of it for months. So I'm not sure what effect the content of the release has on changing anything about the administration or its hold on power. As I just mentioned, I do see the benefit of providing full material to counter selective release. But that would remain true regardless of the specific content.
Too, also, given that the interview is with Steele's boss, rather than with someone providing fully independent confirmation of Steele's findings, I'm also inclined to read the transcript with a degree of skepticism.
But I'll (maybe) have more on that later; I'm literally off to the dentist now.
I believe that each era finds a improvement in law each year brings something new for the benefit of mankind.
--Clarence Earl Gideon