Sunday's Washington Post Magazine carried an article on how leftist Robert Mueller superfans -- oops, we won't explicitly label them ideologically -- the "Mueller faithful" are handling the hard fact that their hero failed to allege Trump colluded with the Russian government, and failed to render a verdict on obstruction of justice. This is not how they wanted this story to turn out!
Writer Samuel Ashworth sensitively chronicled their "merchandising of anxiety," with Mueller prayer candles and tank tops. Take Clare Winter:
Winter is an atheist but was raised Catholic, and that fall, she says, "all I could think was, 'I wish I could pray to someone.' "
Then one day she saw an image of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, with his lantern jaw and no-nonsense gray hair. “I just thought, you know, someone needs to put a halo around that guy,” she says. So she did. She worked with an artist friend to design a votive-style prayer candle depicting Mueller as a Catholic saint, with a shimmering silver halo and a suit and tie.
She has sold 9,000 of hers, at $16 a pop. Ashworth and the Post loved the atheist take on the Catholic tradition: "Images of saints invariably portray them as calm and beatific. Consider the depictions of Saint Sebastian looking fondly skyward as his body is riddled with arrows. And in this sense, the seemingly imperturbable Mueller made for an ideal religious icon."
No one was brought in to say atheists look silly making devotional candles.
Naturally, the conspiracy theorists aren't letting go of their conspiracy. They've decided, like the press, that Bill Barr is a villain and Mueller is still a hero, not a failure:
How do they feel about what has transpired? And now that their hero’s work is done, is it time to snuff the candles and put them away?
Not quite. “We’re still keeping them on the shelves, and we’re still keeping them lit,” says Bridgid Blackburn, owner of Cargo Inc., a shop in Portland, Ore., that has sold more than 4,500 of Winter’s votives after a Facebook post advertising them went viral. There was a slowdown right after the Barr letter, she says, but sales later picked up....
For some, that faith hasn’t diminished now that the investigation is over. A.G. [of the "Mueller She Wrote" podcast] sees the report as vindication: “Sometimes, you question your own sanity. You ask, ‘Is my confirmation bias so strong that I’m making it all up in my own head?’ And then … you realize you were right all along, and it’s still sad.”
Insert the sad tuba for The Price Is Right losers. It's time for new heroes, Ashworth concluded, like a certain Latina socialist:
Still, even Mueller’s most ardent fans must now contemplate a future without him. One possibility is for his devotees to focus on their own power as organizers and activists — or as A.G. puts it, “We’re the Muellers we’re looking for.”
For her part, Winter is taking a break from making Mueller candles — she’s exhausted — but she has a vision for other candles. “The idea of having a product where people can light a match and imagine a way of making our country better,” she says, “that’s a product I’d like to sell.”
Blackburn, the Portland shop owner, already has a replacement in mind for the Mueller candles once they run out. She recently started stocking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prayer candles. She says the first batch sold out “immediately.”