If there’s one thing that sums up this moment in history perfectly for me, it’s Robert De Niro mugging it up as Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live. As a signifier, De Niro is shorthand for certain things: "cool"; "tough"; and that horror of honorifics, "badass". As a fact, the De Niro Mueller is a golem staggering out of our collective delusions.
We are all swept up in the Epic of Trump, and epics, traditionally, are populated with archetypes. Super-cop, traitor, dad -- the meme that is Robert Mueller takes shape according to a viewer’s self-certainty in this uncertain age. He can be a media MacGuffin or a Russian red-herring; a war hero or a war criminal; De Niro in Goodfellas or De Niro in Dirty Grandpa, all depending on who is watching him do what where when.