In a brilliant series of 1984 Wendy’s commercials, gravel-voiced character actress Clara Peller ridiculed a competitor’s meager portions by demanding “where’s the beef?” In today’s parlance, we might say that the ads went viral.
Presidential candidate Walter Mondale tapped the popular ads that primary season for a “zinger” that mocked rival Gary Hart’s much-ballyhooed but insubstantial policy proposals. “Where’s the beef?” Mondale demanded in March. It was another way of saying the Emperor has no clothes.
The phrase entered American slang repertoire for a season, and then fell into disuse. I remembered it again, recently, when the mainstream media and their fellow Democrats were disappointed to learn that the president’s son called two business associates, not his father, between his calls to arrange a 2016 meeting with Russians.
Democrats had tantalized their media playmates with the prospect of a smoking gun. Young Trump’s call logs showed the numbers as “blocked,” but they were decodable. This was a mystery that could and would be solved. Democrat members of the House Intelligence Committee feigned smug insider confidence that the evidence establishes the president’s guilt.
When Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana was asked to confirm on camera that Donald Trump Jr. phoned his father that day, which would suggest collaborating with him on Russian collusion efforts, the Intelligence Committee member was coy. “Stay tuned,” he said.
He simply could not bring himself to disengage from what he certainly knew to be a false claim. Anything goes against Donald Trump. And Rep. Carson wasn’t alone. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of television and newspaper stories referenced the blocked phone numbers. The New York Times called it “one of the more tantalizing mysteries of the whole Russia affair.”
But it doesn’t seem so tantalizing anymore. We stayed tuned, as Rep. Carson counseled, and aren’t very impressed with the beef portions that we waited for. There is a pattern here. Democrats insinuate dark conspiracies, then retreat behind a solemn veil of confidentiality when it comes time to back their accusations up.
Robert Mueller is an experienced prosecutor with all the coercive assets of the Justice Department at his disposal. He won’t go home empty-handed. He is thoroughly networked with federal prosecutors in big cities across the nation. If he shakes any tree hard enough, something will surely fall out of it.
His franchise has been extended beyond its original expiration date. Democrats who objected to the expense of Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton have nevertheless signed on for Mueller’s budget of about $10 million per year.
Despite an unlimited budget and an open-ended mandate, the Mueller team’s indictments and court filings have not indicated any criminal activity by Trump or the Trump campaign.
The FBI has seized Trump’s personal attorney’s files, emails and hard drives, and mounted a shock-and-awe raid on his associate Roger Stone as if he were a cartel kingpin. Yet the court filings that flowed from that have not indicated that Trump or his campaign had any advance knowledge or rendered any support of the Russian activities.
Asking the Russians what they know about your opponent is not a crime. If that’s collusion, then the Clinton campaign has to answer for the Christopher Steele dossier, based in part on inquiries he made of Russian intelligence officers.
And “if it were a crime,” as Jonathan Turley wrote in The Hill, “then journalists, campaigns and public interest groups would be subject to regular criminal prosecution.”
The question has ripened. The American people are entitled to ask Democrats in the mainstream media and Deep State alike: “where’s the beef?”