Michael Doran in NR:
Why is the Steele dossier still taken seriously?
For a complete understanding of the dossier’s tenacious hold on lofty minds, one must supplement conventional political analysis with psychology. What we are witnessing is nothing less than a textbook case of denial and projection — the most perfect case imaginable.
The event that shaped the dossier more than any other was the hack of the DNC. Guccifer 2.0 first began releasing documents on June 15. A week later, Steele produced his first report. The Hillary Clinton that emerged from the DNC emails was preternaturally unsuited to a populist moment. Here she was: the Hillary Clinton who made high-priced speeches to Wall Street on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. Here was the co-executive of the international slush funds of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. Here was the power-hungry political boss who worked with the DNC to fix the Democratic primaries. Clinton’s supporters instinctively understood the size of the wound that the hack opened up, and they worked frantically to cauterize it — which meant deflecting attention from the greed, entitlement, and sleaze that characterized Clinton, Inc.
The dossier quickly became a tool for denying the deficiencies of Bill and Hillary Clinton, projecting them onto Donald Trump. Is Bill Clinton a sexual predator? That’s nothing. Trump pays teams of prostitutes to pee on him! Did Hillary Clinton preside over the failed “reset” with Russia? That’s nothing. Putin is blackmailing Trump, and he fears Hillary! Did Bill Clinton pocket a $500,000 fee for a speech he gave in Moscow, shortly before the sale of American uranium to Russian interests? That’s nothing. Trump’s been dependent on Putin for years! Do the emails from the DNC prove that Hillary Clinton rigged the primaries? That’s nothing. Trump conspired with Putin to rig the entire election!
Once the enablers of Hillary Clinton compromised their own integrity, they internalized her program of denial and projection. Their own egos are now invested in perpetuating it. To avoid owning up to their shortcomings, they insist, in ever-shriller tones, on the personal integrity of the super spy and the credibility of his reports. The mere acknowledgement of a simple truth — that the “dossier” is junk — would constitute an admission either of deep professional malfeasance or of gob-smacking gullibility.
Choose your poison: You duped people and thereby abetted a gross abuse of power; or you were yourself badly duped. That is the dilemma that the lofty-minded now face. The choice is excruciating. It requires abandoning satisfying self-images and embracing painful self-truths — while also handing a well-deserved victory to a hated political enemy. As a consequence, the Steele dossier has proved to be as consequential as it is asinine.