The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ten on Comey, Etc.

You’ve heard of “hot takes”? Well, let me give you some cold takes, where the Comey hearing is concerned. A few points, some light and minor, some heavy and major.

1) Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” I hope so too. That would help clear up who’s telling the truth and who’s not. But I want to focus on the word “Lordy.”

It reminded me of “Lawzy.” My great-aunt — and great aunt — said it now and then. I never heard anyone else say it — until the first President Bush said it. I was amazed, and thrilled.

My aunt and Bush 41 are the only two people I’ve ever heard say “Lawzy.”

2) Several senators addressed Comey as “Director.” I think “Mr.” would have been fine. I don’t think titles have to linger, with the possible exception of “Judge.” I think there is something semi-affectionate about “Judge.” Something kind of fun, too.

3) Several times, Comey said, “I could be wrong.” He said this when asked to speculate or interpret. The Republican National Committee, in its tweets, mocked this. They dubbed the witness “James ‘I could be wrong’ Comey.”

But this is the way mature people talk. Mature people have a sense of humility about what they know — know for sure — and what they may be wrong about.

The RNC is incredibly sophomoric in its tweets.

Would President Trump ever say, “I could be wrong”? Must other Republicans adopt the persona of their leader?

4) After the president fired Comey as FBI director, the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said, “I’ve heard from countless members of the FBI who are grateful for the president’s decision.” I’m not sure I believe that.

5) Sanders also said that Comey had committed “atrocities” in the course of his work at the FBI. I’m not sure I believe that either. I’m also not sure that Sanders knows what “atrocities” means.

6) The day after President Trump fired Comey, the president met with Russian officials in the Oval Office. He told them, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.” (The president added, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”)

Aside from the propriety of trashing a former FBI director to representatives of Vladimir Putin’s regime: Does Comey strike you as “crazy, a real nut job”? How does someone who would describe him that way — to Putin’s reps — strike you?

7) During the Clinton years, we conservatives said that the president benefited from the sheer volume of his scandals and improprieties: Travelgate, Filegate, Whitewater, the Lincoln Bedroom (the renting of), China fundraising, etc. And that was all before Monica! The Clinton scandals came at you like a firehose. So you really couldn’t keep up.

And his supporters said, “Well, that’s just Clinton’s enemies — the vast right-wing conspiracy — trying to get him.”

Something like that works for President Trump, I think. While you’re trying to absorb one thing — an intelligence disclosure, for example — something else comes up. And you forget all about the first thing. That which would otherwise dominate the news for days or weeks, vanishes.

8) Trump also benefits from a low bar, I think. Comey’s testimony would be damning of other elected officials. But, in many eyes — including the president’s own — it clears Trump. If there is anything less than forthright criminality, people say, “It’s all good!”

9) Anyone can understand Republican frustration at allegations of collusion between Trump, personally, and the Kremlin. But I think it would reassure many people if the GOP just showed a bit more curiosity, and a bit more indignation, about Russian interference in our election.

It’s a very odd development that the Republican party — of all parties — is blasé about Kremlin machinations, particularly in the United States. (It’s also odd that so many Republicans embrace or defend WikiLeaks.)

As Comey said on the Hill, interference “is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally.”

10) In recent days, I’ve watched GOP operatives and talkers — Newt et al. — go to work on Robert Mueller, as well as Comey. And I’ve flashed back to the Democrats and their treatment of Ken Starr: their demonization of him.

Our David French has written on this topic, here. I’m so glad he has. It’s important, and holds up a mirror.