Of all the differences between last year’s Women’s March and this one, the shout-outs to special counsel Robert Mueller were the most striking. Protest signs promised that Mueller would be “Putin Trump Where He Belongs,” which is to say prison, and that it was finally “Mueller Time.” At the Sacramento rally, I saw a poster with an illustration of a putting green that read: “You Know Who’s Not Golfing? Robert Mueller.” Some slogans, however, edged from support into adulation. There were “Team Mueller” signs dotted with hearts, a “Robert Mueller, Marry Me” proposal carried by a woman in a pussy hat, and, in one of the more baffling political gestures of 2018, a bold declaration:
Whence this horniness? And toward what end is it building? As soon as Mueller’s investigation began to loom over Trumpworld, the man himself was made to bear the brunt of liberal fantasy: memes enshrining him as a hero have been plentiful for months, and he’s commonly represented as Superman. Proud #Resistance members use him as a digital avatar, ignoring that he led an intelligence agency known as an enemy of civil rights movements. Back in August, when he impaneled a grand jury, Vogue declared Mueller “America’s New Crush,” quoting fans who had tweeted stuff like ““Intelligence is sexy,” “#SilverFox,” and “I wanna have his baby.” And as the tension of the probe ratchets up, people have been only too candid as to how the man makes them feel.
Meanwhile, let’s not forget, Trump is actively ruining our national libido. Americans are having less frequent and overall worse sex under this president; any inclination to bone as much as possible before the nukes fall is overmatched by reports that he had a porn star spank him with Forbes. It is a far, far cry from the Obama years, when the White House was host to a visibly strong marriage that you just knew involved solid time in the sack together. It was this domestic harmony, combined with Barack’s good looks, that made him an ideal “daddy,” per internet slang: He was a literal dad, of course, one you could look up to — a patient father to the country — but also a handsome guy to objectify.
Trump has defiled that arrangement in every way, from his icy relationship with Melania and toddler-weak grip on reality to his alleged predations and repeated desire to date his daughter Ivanka (who does, indeed, call him “daddy”). No one has done more to explode and eradicate this avenue of arousal for everyone, and into this mess walks Mueller — calm, cool, lantern-jawed and laser-focused. Never mind that he’s a Republican who was appointed to run the FBI by George W. Bush, that in any other context he’d seem like a vaguely telegenic but essentially boring dude who went down early in a GOP primary race, that the Supreme Court saved his bacon in a lawsuit over treatment of Muslim detainees post-9/11. Because Trump is so singularly awful, an abusive stepfather screaming at the TV, the response to Mueller is: “Daddy’s home.”
I’m as hopeful as anyone that Mueller can unravel Trump’s nest of ninnies and crack some heads together, but the fetish for him is just plain weird. Worshippers have gone so far as to swoon over his service with the Marines in Vietnam — simply because Trump was a draft-dodger, as were many on the left. They yearn for an orgasmic release that can only be brought about by a binder full of bulletproof indictments. In this they imagine a magical return to some recognized equilibrium, to “business as usual,” but as many have pointed out, the old normalities are dead, and Mueller’s formal charges would merely open a new chapter of the Trump saga, not end it altogether. He may well be a key instrument of the president’s downfall. He is certainly not an avenging god.
Curiously, the center-left’s hysterical glee at each tidbit of Mueller’s progress feeds on his methodical, undramatic approach. He moves swiftly, yet without fanfare, as manic Russiagate theorists spin Twitter megathreads from the few tea leaves he provides. The thirst for Daddy Mueller ultimately isn’t just ardor displaced from the Obama era, or an eagerness to see Trump eat shit, but a sense that he’s the one professional — the one adult — now active on the federal stage. Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out that the government is basically parents for grown-ups, and at a moment where it feels as if every last elected representative ought to lose custody, Mueller absorbs our projection of and need for sensible authority, someone to make it okay, keep us safe, reaffirm the rules.
Yet dads are not infallible. Even great daddies let us down. In this political climate, you must always gird for disappointment, and the possibility that no smart, strapping combat veteran will swoop in to save the day. Mueller could of course overcome the obstacles to deliver results, but until he does, let’s leave daddy alone — he’s working.