Sunday, April 22, 2018

Literary Corner: Ring Around the Comeys

Kurt Schwitters, Blauer Vogel (Blue Bird), ca.1922, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Murray A. Gribin, Beverly Hills, CA, via Arftchive.

Donald Trump is really a spoken word artist, with the flash and spontaneity that implies, and one almost always feels in his written work a certain stylistic cramping, an inhibition, an overworked quality (you even see this in the time stamps, which allow you to calculate the time he's taken to compose his 280 characters, often 30 or 40 minutes apiece even when they're in a tight sequence, even, as in the first piece below, broken in the middle of an adjective phrase), but once in a while, as we've seen before, a fresh emotion lifts his tweet into lyricality, and this seems to have happened last week with the arrival in bookstores of James Comey's A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, with its narrative of Trump attempting to get the FBI director to halt investigations of Trump's friends, divulge the secret of whether Trump himself was under investigation, or simply swear personal fealty to the president, and Comey's presence all over the television ably defending his motivations (though not so able when it came to explaining why he had twice, at critical moments of the campaign, divulged secret information about the Bureau's pointless ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton).

Or maybe it was just spring in the air. These new songs have a peculiar lightness, skippy, almost like children's rhymes, except for not rhyming. Below the fold:

Six Songs of Comey
by Donald J. Trump

I. The Firing
James Comey is a proven
Virtually everyone in Washington
thought he should be fired
for the terrible job he did—
until he was, in fact, fired.
He leaked CLASSIFIED information,
for which he should be prosecuted.
He lied to Congress under OATH.
He is a weak and.....
..... untruthful slime ball
who was, as time has proven,
a terrible Director of the FBI.
His handling of the Crooked
Hillary Clinton case,
and the events surrounding it,
will go down as one
of the worst “botch jobs” of history.
It was my great honor
to fire James Comey!
That's a funny picture of le tout-Washington demanding the firing of Comey until it actually happens, when they start to pull back, just to be disagreeable. Not that it's exactly true, of course, this is poetry, not history; the hostility toward Comey moved generally on more partisan lines, Republicans cheering him on when he seemed to be after Hillary and souring when he seemed to be after Trump, and the Democrats more or less conversely, but it's true that pretty much everybody wanted to fire Comey at one time or another. Only Trump, I guess, wanted to do it in order to halt an investigation, as he said at the time ("I said to my self, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story"), though he seems to have forgotten that in favor of the official story concocted by deputy attorney general Rosenstein that what Trump was really upset by was the director's mistreatment of Secretary Clinton, and "the events surrounding it" slipped into the poem by way of trying to encourage the idea that he knows what events those were, which he doesn't, or he probably wouldn't suggest that the even that contributed more than any other to his assumption of the presidence was a historically unparalleled "botch job".

I should probably stress that I'm not aware of any convincing accounts of Comey LEAKing anything other than the notes he took on his disturbing meetings with Trump, conveyed to the press after he was fired, and the notes were his personal property, which doesn't qualify as leaking in my own sense of the word, or LYing at all, except in the context of the next section.

DOJ just issued
the McCabe report—
which is a total disaster.
McCabe was totally controlled
by Comey—McCabe is Comey!!
No collusion, all made up
by this den of thieves and lowlifes!
Not about Lied in the sense of German art song of the Romantic era! But traditional song is directly evoked in the first two stanzas, with their Jack-and-Jill prosodic format.

Premonitions of catastrophe creep into the simple picture of Trump's easy decisiveness in the previous section. Something is a disaster! Deputy director Andrew McCabe is the subject of a report! Collusion was, or crucially wasn't involved! And the deputy director is controlled by the director, or actually is the director (which would make more sense if the "lies" attributed to him, on the subject of who told what to whom about whether the FBI was conducting an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, hadn't been in conflict with statements of Comey's, though Trump thinks he's a liar too—and also if they hadn't been interest only to the most insane of imaginable bureaucrats). Den of thieves and lowlifes!

III. The Memos

I never asked Comey
for Personal Loyalty.
I hardly even knew this guy.
Just another of his many lies.
His “memos” are self serving
and FAKE!
Here the tone is of a popular song, wisping in and almost instantly out. Comey was just the FBI's coffee director. He would order the beans (fair trade) online.

Slippery James Comey, a man
who always ends up badly
and out of whack (he is not smart!),
will go down as the WORST
FBI Director
in history, by far!
That he "always ends up badly" situates Comey in the realm of myth, or commedia dell'arte character, living in an endlessly recurring disgrace. Comey/Comedy.

V. The Invidious Comparison
So General Michael Flynn’s life
can be totally destroyed
while Shadey James Comey
can Leak and Lie and make
lots of money from a third rate book
(that should never have been written).
Is that really the way life in America
is supposed to work? I don’t think so!
Flynn, of course, pleaded guilty to a count of lying to the FBI, the crime of which Andrew McCabe is sort of accused, except on the subject of behavior that was actually bad, the fact that he really was colluding with Russians. One might say he totally destroyed his own life by committing a number of substantial crimes for which he hasn't even been charged, like accepting constitutionally forbidden foreign emoluments from Russia and Turkey. While Comey's Leaks and Lies, once again, remain not only unproven, but unidentified.

VI. In Council

James Comey
illegally leaked
classified documents to the press
in order to generate a Special Council?
Therefore, the Special
Council was established
based on an illegal act?
Really, does everybody know what that means?
I like the return to the Jack-and-Jill form, augmented by a line, and the way a misspelling (for Special Counsel) turns into something that sounds ominously meaningful (like the English Privy Council or the Venetian Council of Ten, a mysterious power we didn't know about) that is "generated" by an illegal leak that didn't take place (even if you think the release of Comey's first memo was really illegal, it took place after the Special Counsel was appointed). Does everybody know what that means? I do! It means the emperor is nuts!

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