Subtext is always a particularly interesting thing to analyze, particularly when the speaker is in politics. The goal of politicians, of course, is to obfuscate the truth behind soaring or damning rhetoric while never saying what they actually mean.
James Comey wasn’t supposed to be a politician. After all, the role of the FBI director is supposed to be a nonpartisan one. However, the S.S. “A Higher Loyalty” clearly left the dock on that one a long time ago, so here we are parsing Comey’s words for the meaning underneath the surface.
Take his appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Sunday, where he came up with a very nice way of saying he was afraid of impeaching President Donald Trump because his supporters might not go away then.
“I hope Donald Trump is not removed from office by impeachment because it would let the country off the hook,” Comey said.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 11, 2018
There you go again, plebes. Bad, bad America!
You let Comey down, and he’s not letting you off the hook. You’d better do the work to make him happy again!
Comey said he also didn’t want this to happen because “it would drive into the fabric of our nation a third of the people believing there was a coup.
“And we need a moment of inflection where we all get off the couch and say, ‘That is not who we are,’ and in a landslide rid ourselves of this attack on our values,” he concluded.
Let’s break this statement down from its current, rehearsed-to-death form and reveal the actual arguments therein.
First, Comey is disappointed in you, America. After all, if you’re being let off the hook, it has to be from something, right? And that something, obviously, is electing Trump. By this, of course, he doesn’t mean all of America — just the part that voted for Trump.
Second, anyone who believes that maybe the relentless drive to impeach the president — a drive that began before he even took office — is an attempt to remove the duly elected leader of the country without an actual election to do it is basically a conspiracy theorist.
After all, he said “it would drive into the fabric of our nation a third of the people believing there was a coup.” That’s basically a conspiracy theory.
Third, we can also infer from this that he’s afraid Trump supporters may not go away. If the president is impeached, his supporters — along with those who may not be inveterate Trump supporters but also aren’t enamored with what he’s fond of calling “the swamp” — would believe that he was removed from office at the behest of the political establishment.
Which, barring an actual, provable crime being committed, well, yeah. They’ve made it clear that’s what this is about.
The political establishment has thought from day one that the mere fact the American people elected Donald Trump indicated there was something wrong with the election. They’re still convinced that what Trump represents is something fleeting or can be explained away by bigotry or miseducation — not by the rot endemic in our political system
Finally, Comey is saying it’s time for Americans to vote the way right-thinking people are. And by right-thinking people, of course, I mean James Comey.
In case you didn’t get it, here’s what the former FBI director said in another interview that aired Sunday: “I can tell you that all of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lying stops on Jan. 20, 2021,” he said.
“I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be … but they have to win,” he added. “They have to win.”
And then all this unpleasantness about the swamp and elites can go away forever, and the Republicans can get some good people to run for office — the kind, say, James Comey might see fit to lunch with.
Don’t let him down again, America.
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