Patience is not always a virtue. Like other virtues, it is a utility. It has its place. In the case of Donald trump and Bob Mueller, we are now watching the first round of a climactic title fight. A knockout punch is always a possibility. But sometimes things drag on and on. Sometimes there is no decision. There are even times when a fighter walks away.

My sense is that if Mueller cannot deliver significant blows quite soon, time will favor Trump. We may end up saying Mueller could have had him but he didn't step up.

At ringside

Today, with a ringside seat, things are almost stopped.

The fighters hardly move. They are feeling each other out. Any moment and it could all come crashing down. One or the other could be carried out of the ring. Or this could be the whole story. Boredom and perhaps a narrow split decision.

Yesterday the prelim featured John McCain and he landed a whopper.

The endless effort to get rid of Barack Obama and his health program was hit with a firm no. Two noble woman senators have already said no. Three votes and McConnell's battle to do the president's will is lost. Trump must now reckon with the possibility that he will end the year -- if he is still with us -- with no legislative accomplishment save for the invidious confirmation of the execrable Judge Gorsuch, employing the nuclear option for lack of support.

Democracy on the block

Underneath the conflict is the fact that on issue after issue, the American people by vote and by polls have rejected Trump and his positions The reason Trump is favored by time is that he has nowhere to go but up. Democracy has been defeated for years by the machinations of the GOP, including gerrymandering and being the party of the rich shielded by Citizens United.

Strong case?

Can Mueller rise to the occasion and take what he now has in the bank into the ring? If he doesn't a cagy Trump might employ his famous distraction strategy. But if Mueller makes signs that he is ready to inflict some pain, Trump will likely revert to the street-fighting mode he learned from Roy Cohn. He will fire Mueller and test the willingness of the so-far compliant GOP to discipline him.

That is where we are

Who will move first? Mueller is the most likely. A serious blow can be inflicted by hinting that Jared Kushner is right up there with Flynn and Manafort as a person of interest. Touch Kushner and Trump gets it. It will be when Mueller can create an apoplectic overreaction that the first round will become interesting. Make no mistake the final battle is on. Paused, but on.