(This post will be appearing shortly at firstofthemonth.org., edited by Benj Demott.)
In a year of assholes, it appears that the formidable task of being crowned Asshole of the Year has now been achieved by James Comey. Usually the question is, is this Team Stupid or Team Evil? And the answer with Republicans is often, both. In view of the affirmations from all sides that he is a straight up guy, I'm opting for the usual combination, but with emphasis on Team Stupid. And in his case, we might insert Team Craven as well.
It's only been two days, so not a lot is known. Thanks to the path-breaking post-election story-telling of Teddy White, who answered the publisher's question of will anyone care once the result is known, we can be assured we will in fact know intimate details, probably sooner rather than later. But the current vacuum cries out for speculation...
Comey is a Republican and that is his reference group. So even as he tries to be the Boy Scout he is reputed to consciously aspire to be, when they criticize him, no matter how cravenly stupid and partisan and evil they may be, he cowers. He doesn't want to endure yet another bout of abuse from them.
But why doesn't he understand that failing to follow the dictates of his superiors and of precedent and of guidelines will open him up to something worse than abuse — he loses his reputation and respect. Maybe he doesn't see himself as a Boy Scout; maybe he sees himself as a Boy Scout Troop Leader — Mr. Independent Judgement and Individual Responsibility. Maybe he thinks that will look heroic. Guess again.
Instead, what it looks like to me, and I'll speculate it will look like to history, is that he has been ground down by the Republican Right Wing, a despicably unpatriotic bunch, and, like so many of Republicans one might have hoped would be stand-up guys and gals, he has not been able to withstand Hurricane Trump. Team Stupid, Team Craven.
Or maybe there is something more nefarious going on. Jason Chaffetz might be in his ear. They might be in cahoots, or something that hasn't even been imagined, maybe Chaffetz has something on him. You can believe anything about these guys, really. Maybe he was spotted in the Minneapolis airport men's room taking a wide stance.
In any case, from the July press conference that was unprecedented and immoderate, to this ambush in October with all innuendo and no apparent substance whatsoever, he has fully achieved his sad fate as Asshole of the Year.
Didn't any of these guys read Profiles in Courage in high school?