…which, unfortunately, are all too few and far between.
Let’s get something straight- Donald Trump is autocratic, bombastic, reckless, and impulsive, among other things. This is something we’ve known about the man, long before he got into politics. Those that have a passing knowledge of his past dealings also know that he will almost-literally bulldoze anyone in his way. (For those who don’t, click here.) Knowing all this about a guy who has been in public life for four decades, the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey actually makes sense, relative to Trump’s “normal” modus operandi. But right now, we’re in a hostile, ultra-polarized political environment that’s anything but normal. On one side, there’s a treasonous conspiracy theory that spans the globe. On the other side, there’s applause for a move that we’re told was “inevitable”, even though we hardly heard anything about it before it happened. What should the rest of us believe?
To The Left, To The Left…
For the vast majority of Trump-hating liberals, this is more “proof” that he’s in cahoots with the Russians, something that they talked themselves into before he even got sworn in. (Of course, this was only after voter machine miscues and the original fake news accusations didn’t stick.) The same people who told us how “frightening” it was that Trump wouldn’t swear to unconditionally respect the election results, are the same ones who now want us to unconditionally question the election results, something they’ve done ever since the day their candidate didn’t win. This isn’t to say there’s NO evidence of Russian interference on behalf of Trump- far from it. (We’ll get to that part in the next section.) But with all the things that we know to be true about Donald Trump, let alone the things that are likely to be true, the idea that he’s specifically operating on behalf of Russia is only slightly less unhinged than the idea that he’s the next Hitler.
And since when have liberals cared so much about Russian dominance, anyway? In the one accidental moment of greatness (in hindsight) during Mitt Romney’s otherwise feckless campaign, his attempt at a serious discussion of Russian dominance was treated with ridicule and scorn, from none other than President Obama, among so many others. (Unsurprisingly, The New York Times wasn’t kind, either.) The investigation into Russian interference might seem more credible to skeptics, if its biggest advocates would admit it is COMPLETELY about stopping Trump, not Vladimir Putin. There have been plenty of opportunities to show real concern about Putin for two decades, but the western media has mostly been quiet, save for a few stories, lasting one or two news cycles, about some invasion or execution of a political opponent. (Truth be told, the most covered anti-Putin story was probably about the band Pussy Riot getting arrested for its lyrics, but that was largely because the lead singer was incredibly good looking, and the media had an excuse to legitimately say the word “pussy”.)
One final point, before examining the other side’s motives and “logic”, such as it is- it’s worth pointing that to the extent that Russia did successfully interfere, it was in exposing the Democratic National Committee’s activities in the primaries. Broken down into their most basic elements, critics screaming about Russian interference are essentially angry that voters found out how the DNC, under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schulz, was going to bat exclusively for Hillary Clinton, in an attempt to slow down Bernie Sanders momentum, and put Hillary over-the-top, once and for all. Oh, the irony.
Right Here, Right Now…
None of the explanations given above justify a single thing about the firing itself. In fact, the reckless way in which it was conducted by Trump, followed by the inconsistent stories given in its aftermath (they even tried to claim it was Comey’s harsh handling of HILLARY that led to the firing), have made it not only inevitable that the story would be covered, but it should be covered. Just consider the facts- The President of the United States fires the FBI Director, openly admits that the investigation into Russia is part of the reason for it, and then implies blackmail on Twitter if the poor guy doesn’t keep his mouth shut?! How can ANYONE defend that kind of behavior?! And yet…
Tucker Carlson applauded the move of Comey’s firing, implying he was an out-of-control threat from the highest reaches of government, that people were more fearful of criticizing than Trump himself. (I dunno, Tucker- YOU seem kind of fearful of criticizing Trump. But I digress.) Our old buddy Charles Hurt did the same thing, praising Trump for cleaning out “the swamp“. Conservative after conservative commentator could not stop bloviating about liberal hypocrisy in criticizing the firing, when liberals themselves had previously been so critical of Comey. In doing so, they completely disregarded the strongest point from the investigation advocates, and not-coincidentally the one gaining the most traction- the suspicious timing of the firing. Why now? You don’t have to be a Trump critic to want an answer to it, but you do have to be a Trump sycophant to NOT want an answer to it.
And At The Center Of It All…
This madness begins and ends, much like this blog post itself, with Donald J. Trump. This is someone who wants to be the center of a universe in which he is celebrated, feared and loved at the same time. James Comey threatened all of those things, and while no one can be sure of the main motivation of his dismissal- perhaps not even Trump himself- this seems far more likely as explanation, than the revelation of a “smoking gun” (sorry, left), or the fact that Comey was the one who was out of control (sorry, right).
But nothing about the firing reveals the nature of Trump more than the way James Comey was fired. From the New York Times–
“Mr. Comey was addressing a group of F.B.I. employees in Los Angeles when a television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired. In response, Mr. Comey laughed, saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank. Then his staff started scurrying around in the background and told Mr. Comey that he should step into a nearby office.”
Unreal, yet totally believable. Teenage Metallica showed more tact when they fired Dave Mustaine in 1983. Maybe Comey should’ve been fired. Maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe it’s part of a cover-up. Maybe it’s not. But the fact that the guy had to find out what happened to him from a TELEVISION SET WHILE HE WAS GIVING A SPEECH, shows yet again something we’ve known about Donald Trump, long before the Access Hollywood tapes, the wall, the comments about people from Mexico, the Birther movement, and all the other things that have come to define this guy in recent years- the man needs to be the center of his own (dysfunctional) universe. As others have pointed out, Trump publicly speculating Comey might have become more famous than Trump himself seems less a compliment of Comey, and more about Trump fearing the loss of his own spotlight. If his mission was to get it back, at least he accomplished THAT much.