Obama FBI nominee James Comey is not a Good Guy; he’s just less bad than Cheney

Update: Listen to this Righteous Rant by humorist Matt Filipowicz for more on eager torturer James Comey. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Consider this a warning against left-wing hero-worship of bogus right-wing posterboys. By whom I mean Obama FBI Director-nominee James Comey, he of the Ashcroft Hospital Drama™. (Note the implicit lionizing at the link by the National Journal.)

Think Comey is a Good Guy? Rick Perlstein has the goods (my emphasis):

Some of us have been shouting from mountaintops, others from molehills: James Comey, currently sailing smoothly through Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for confirmation as chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was:

(a) in charge, and proudly so, of a “terrorism” case that began with a detention without charges, continued with made-up and spurious charges, and ended with a conviction won against an American whose treatment during confinement (on the American mainland) turned his brain to jello;

(b) general counsel for a defense contractor while it was busy hushing up a whistleblower who exposed $24 billion contract that they were building vessels for the Coast Guard, on a $24 billion contract, that buckled and leaked on the high seas;

(c) as of three months ago on the board of a bank, in charge of cleaning up their reputation after it paid a $1.92 billion fine for laundering drug money from Mexico; and

(d) the man who, as former FBI agent Colleen Rowley pointed out this morning in The New York Times, “sign[ed] off on most of the worst of the Bush administration’s legal abuses and questionable interpretations of federal and international law. He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture.

Lots of shouting going on. But not much listening.

Consider me one who’s been shouting, albeit from the molehills:

Just a few of Bush, Ashcroft & Comey's left-behinds. Now Obama wants Comey back. Ties that bind.

Just a few of Bush, Ashcroft & Comey’s left-behinds. Now Obama wants Comey back. Ties that bind.

Think for a second. Ashcroft and Comey refused to re-confirm a spying program. Now, Ashcroft and Comey are Movement Conservatives down to the decoder ring. Ashcroft “lobbies for and invests” in the homeland securities industry. Comey went on to be Senior VP at Lockheed before moving to Money Street.

What NSA bridge was a bridge too far for even James Comey to cross? The program he and Goldsmitfgjellh wouldn’t sign off on …

The point of that riff was this — we know the “bridge too far” was too far, because Comey was already deep in the authoritarian pockets of the Cheneys of the world. It’s not praise of Comey, but special condemnation of that bridge. Comey is the bad that proves the program worse.

Is the “left” — by which I mean my unthinking brothers and sisters — really so hungry for heroes that they now praise the daddy who “didn’t hurt us as badly” as all the others?

I’ll leave you to read the rest of Perlstein’s Nation piece, plus the piece that raised his Comey questions in the first place. Here I want to raise Perlstein’s other question. The presidential one.

The question of Barack Obama

Perlstein continues (again, my emphasis):

Which brings us to the problem of Barack Obama …

Obama’s “hope and change,” we must now accept, is a fetish; one as strange as getting turned on by popping balloons, or dressing like a cuddly stuffed animal. Only this one is far more harmful, even when practiced among consenting adults. Our president’s kink is “bipartisanship”: acting really nice toward Republicans, even if, or even especially, they act really mean toward you. You know: an S&M kind of thing.

And his “change,” in turn, changes us: it wears us down, with the learned helplessness of too many promises betrayed—renders us the opposite of citizens. Which is curious, because most of us thought that if “change” meant anything, after George W. Bush, it meant a reanimation of our civic engagement, a renewed passion for political engagement—a citizenship jamboree. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”: didn’t someone say that once upon a time?

I’m going to call that kindness, even the S&M comment, and credit Perlstein for it. Me, I’m not as nice. I think Obama wanted this all along (if you click, it brings you Obama in 2006, years before our hope caught up with his refusal to change). If my analysis makes him the perp, what does it make of us? I’m afraid to say; your call on that one.

Perlstein’s second point though, about “learned helplessness,” is exactly right. I’ve been calling it “taught helplessness” because I think it’s deliberate on their part. But either way, the lesson of both Mr. Perlstein and my own self is this — you can overcome this yourself, simply by acting. You need no one’s permission.

I’ll even make a third point — muscular Obama seems to love him his torturers, doesn’t he? Would you want to be Jose Padilla — he of the jellied brain — or any of those wretched souls rotting (and choking) in Obama’s Gitmo Hotel?

You can defeat taught helplessness the minute you decide to. Go for it; act. Start anywhere you want. (Here’s one good place, if you’re NSA-inclined, or here.)


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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