COMEY'S GIRL: A funny thing happened when Comey declaimed!


Part 1—The silence of the Ivankas:
A funny thing happened when James B. Comey injected himself into the White House campaign.

Comey, the FBI director, is, within the modern context, a classic insider type. As of July 2016, he'd long been cast by Washington elites as the morally upright Republican straight-talker, a rather familiar type.

On the scandal-purveying side, the role had been played in previous years by "Judge Starr" and by Louis Freeh, among others. On the policy side, the role has long been assigned to Speaker Ryan, a man whose proposals never make sense—but whose rectitude can't be challenged.

Except by Paul Krugman, whose analyses will be ignored.

(At present, the presumption of rectitude is being extended to Governor Romney, who is said to be courting Donald J. Trump due to his patriotism. In line with standard insider scripting, Romney's thinking is being paraphrased thusly: "He's our fake con man now." In line with familiar insider practice, few suggestions of runaway ambition have been offered.)

On July 5, Director Comey injected himself into the White House campaign. In a departure from normal practice and explicitly stated procedure, he assailed Candidate Clinton, saying she'd been "extremely careless" in her email practices. Two days later, he appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he continued his criticisms of Clinton's "extremely careless" ways.

Comey—he's often referred to as Comey the God—had departed from normal procedure himself in voicing these highly subjective assessments of the presumptive Democratic nominee. That said, a funny thing happened when he did so—two funny things, in fact.

Let's start with the first thing that happened. In that House committee hearing, one Democrat after another stood in line to note the obvious rectitude of the great Republican figure.

Our own congressman, Elijah Cummings, showered the godly figure with praise in his opening statement. We'll offer a few of the highlights:
CUMMINGS (7/7/16): Director Comey, thank you for being here today.

I want to begin by commending you and the public servants at the FBI for the independent investigation you conducted. You had a thankless task. No matter what recommendation you made, you were sure to be criticized.

There's no question that you were extremely thorough. In fact, some may even say you went too far in your investigation. But of course, that was your job. That is your job.


Contrary to the claims of your critics, there is absolutely no evidence that you made your recommendation for political reasons; no evidence that you were bribed or coerced or influenced; no evidence that you came to your conclusion based upon anything but the facts and the law. I firmly believe that your decision was not based on convenience, but on conviction.


Finally, I want to make it clear that I condemn these completely unwarranted political attacks against you. They have attacked you personally. They have attacked your integrity. They have impugned your professionalism. And they have even suggested that you were somehow bought and paid for because you made your recommendation based upon the law and the facts.

I know you're used to working in a world of politics, but these attacks have been beyond the pale. So you do not deserve this. Your family does not deserve it. And the highly skilled and dedicated agents of the FBI do not deserve it. I honor your professionalism and your service to our country.
Things went downhill from there.

By the end of the campaign, many people were saying that Comey's conduct, starting in July, had cost Candidate Clinton the White House. In real time, the godlike fellow was showered with praise from Clinton's side of the aisle!

A second funny thing occurred in the week when Comey declaimed. Guest hosting on The Rachel Maddow Show, Steve Kornacki offered several nights of reports about Clinton's bad conduct, reports which might have seemed a bit over the top had they been broadcast on Fox.

Tomorrow, we'll review those remarks. Later this week, we'll review the way Maddow reacted to Comey when she returned, the following week, from a richly-deserved vacation.

Having said that, let us also say this. By the time Maddow returned, important questions had been raised about the god's performance.

At Slate, Fred Kaplan had offered a challenge to Comey's claim that Clinton endangered national security through her "extremely careless" behavior. As this week's reports proceed, we'll review the way Maddow and other MSNBC hosts handled such basic questions.

By September, Comey's high-minded claims about Clinton's carelessness were dominating the conversation wherever press script was sold. During NBC's Commander in Chief Forum, Clinton made a dramatic statement about the emails to Matt Lauer, who seemed able to think about nothing else.

Actually, Clinton was speaking to a Republican who had been chosen to present the first question by an audience member. Needless to say, the question NBC had selected concerned those vexing emails, and contained a harsh accusation:
QUESTION (9/6/16): Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for coming tonight. As a naval flight officer, I held a top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access to materials and information highly sensitive to our warfighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are entrusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?

CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your concern and also your experience. But let me try to make the distinctions that I think are important for me to answer your question.

First, as I said to Matt, you know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified.

And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked. There were no headers, there was no statement, top secret, secret, or confidential.

I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously. When I traveled, I went into one of those little tents that I’m sure you’ve seen around the world because we didn’t want there to be any potential for someone to have embedded a camera to try to see whatever it is that I was seeing that was designated, marked, and headed as classified.

LAUER: Let us—


CLINTON: So I did exactly what I should have done and I take it very seriously, always have, always will.
As Lauer tried to interrupt, Clinton rudely continued talking.

"I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate [email] system," the candidate said. "I did exactly what I should have done."

Given the claims by Comey the God, those were striking statements by Clinton. As the week proceeds, we'll review the way Maddow and her colleagues reacted.

Comey intruded on the campaign again on October 28. Eleven days were left in the White House race.

He declaimed for the third time on the weekend before the election. After the election was done, the Clinton campaign said that these last two intrusions flipped the final vote.

All this week, we'll be reviewing the way our liberal stars reacted to Comey's intrusions. We'll start with Kornacki's weird performances, then move forward from there. We'll also review the way these TV stars reacted in the fall of 2012, when the script about Clinton and Benghazi was crafted by another figure of obvious rectitude, the straight-shooting John McCain.

Benghazi and the emails! To state what is blindingly obvious, this potent pair of scripts played a key role in Candidate Clinton's defeat.

For that reason, it's worth reviewing the way our fiery corporate liberals dealt with these potent scripts. With that in mind, might we offer a personal note?

Especially when we think about the role Maddow played in this matter, we think of the great Marcie Blane. Back in 1962, the compelling teen acknowledged that she "wanted to be Bobby's girl."

All those years later, did Maddow want to be Comey's girl? More on Blane's big hit to come. For today, we'll tease you with this:

On the front page of today's New York Times, a nattering headline pokes at Donald J. Trump's grifter children. In our hard-copy edition, the snippy front-page headline says this:

"Tangle Awaits 3 Trump Children Molded for Business Since Birth"

When we read that snippy headline, we thought of our own set of cable news children. Have they perhaps been molded since birth? For service to the corporation? For service to their bosses? To the guild?

In the end, might a person sensibly ask if they resembled a gang of Ivankas in the way they approached the campaign? We'll return to this thoughtful question by the end of the week.

Does the compliance of the Ivankas help explain the way we got ourselves teabagged last month? Might our love for these silly kids help explain our remarkable loss?

Tomorrow: Guest host, over the top


  1. Clinton defended her actions and now she is being blamed for not coming clean and apologizing sufficiently. Some people on the left seem to think that the right would have stopped hammering Clinton on the emails if she had just apologized abjectly enough. They bring this criticism of her despite the fact that she did apologize, once it became obvious to her that her assertions about proper action were not going to be accepted, even on the left.

    The left abandoned her and now we have Trump. Now they blame her for being too flawed a candidate. How did she get that way? The same way Kerry did, when being a hero in Vietnam was insufficient to prevent his own swiftboating. We need to defend our candidates, not join in the attack.

    1. I agree with you. You should also let Charles Pierce at the Esquire politics blog know what you think. His almost reluctant endorsement of Clinton this past summer was stupid. It was as if someone was twisting his arm.

    2. The "cool kids" were for Bernie. It was fashionable to be lukewarm for Hillary. Uncool to be enthusiastic about her -- she is like a grandma or your mom! Esquire is about cool.

  2. Bob??? I get the impression you did not understand that Elijah Cummings words were to defend Comey from those on the right who denounced him for not indicting HRC despite the lack of any basis for such an action. The major point that few seem to note is that Comey blundered by pandering to his right wing buddies with gratuitous attacking words that had little to no basis. The State Dept methods on classified were probablyhigher than Comey's own or past administration's based on my experience in several branches of government.

    1. I'm sure that Bob understands that. But look how it worked out. Maybe it would have been better if Mr. Cummings had responded as Bob did at the time, which was to question why Comey was making such statements to begin with.

    2. While you appaerntly channel Edgar Cayce re: Bob's "understanding", you also advance a bit of fake news of your own: he never questioned "why Comey was making such statements" AT THE TIME (eg. July 5 through July 11).
      Or are you once again employing your extraordinary psychic skills to explain what Bob really meant?

    3. Here's Somerby being slow off the mark, not posting this until July 13 [LINK]:

      Yesteryear watch: Predecessor to Comey the God

      ...Judge Kenneth Starr the God: Today, John B. Comey has been anointed the press corps' latest god. His rectitude is apparent to all. His obvious moral greatness cannot be challenged.

      At one time, Kenneth Starr preceded Comey in the role of Washington insider god. "Judge Starr" was known, by one and all, to be a figure of rectitude. He was widely regarded as a future Supreme Court pick when he humbly accepted the task of taking down Clinton and Clinton.

      By now, Starr has been humiliated several times, most recently for his role in the Baylor sex assault scandal. He's no longer seen as a press corps god—but so what? He has been replaced in that role by the unassailable Comey.

      ...Maddow is almost cosmically clueless about the politics of the entire Clinton/Gore era. We liberals will never understand a basic point—you can't empower crazies like these just because they're pursuing someone you may dislike.

      The history of this era is clear. In the end, it's the liberal and progressive world which takes the ultimate biggest hits when this kind of hang-em-high "journalism" is permitted. This is how we got President Bush at the end of the Clinton era. This year, it may give us President Trump.

      Tomorrow, we'll return to the recent conduct of Comey the God. The more we've looked at what he has done, the less we're able to feel that he behaved in good faith.

      Starting tomorrow, we'll explain.

      The more we look at what Comey did, the more we feel that he's pulled a bit of a con. But so what? Dana Milbank made him a god, and one Democrat after another praised him for his obvious rectitude when he testified before the House committee last Thursday.

      Meanwhile, Rachel has run away from this topic, as she always does. She's now busily wasting your time trying to guess Trump's VP pick....

      Tomorrow: Comey the God and his apparent con [END QUOTE]

    4. TDH quotes Clinton (for the second time) in the Lauer interview as stating in answer to the audience question about the emails "I communicated about classified information on a wholly separate system." As far as I can tell, the media has essentially ignored this point. If Clinton is telling the truth (and I don't share the view that she is a pathological liar) this is a huge thing. The impression I got from every source I saw or heard was that she did all her communications over the private email system. Is there a reason why her predominant communication of classified info was through another system? (Instead the accepted line is that since there were a few emails, with the 'C' for 'classified' in the wrong place, in the email chains revealing the hush hush fact that we were using drones in Pakistan, Clinton 'lied' about there being no classified info on her phone.)

    5. AC/MA:

      The reason you are confused or have a wrong impression is that the media intentionally obscured this fact.

      Of course she used the proper system for communicating classified information, it was called the SCIF system(Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.

      Everyone knew this, it is discussed in depth in the FBI report, yet the media intentionally misled the public. Even today most people don't know it.

      And the Benghazi investigations all were privy to her classified communications and knew everything they needed to know from them. There was nothing substantive added to their understanding of the event in Benghazi from her daily work emails. This was just a pretext to go fishing through her emails for something to damage her.

  3. "Might our love for these silly kids help explain our remarkable loss?"

    No, no, no, no, NO!

    (Well, actually, yes.)

    I may be alone in this, but I for one blame Cassandra.

  4. I found Comey's behavior strange. I'm guessing that he believed Hillary had technically broken the law, decided not to recommend criminal charges, because that would have taken her totally out of the race, but described her "gross carelessness" as a compromise.

    1. He stated that she had not technically broken any law. That was why he said no prosecutor would recommend charges against her. He tried to make it seem like she had still done something wrong, even if he could find nothing much to complain about.

    2. Here are two direct Comey quotes:
      Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information....

      Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.

      I interpret this to mean that she possibly did break the law, but no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against her.

    3. You interpret this a certain way but Comey does not. He says he did not find clear evidence, he says there is evidence of "potential" violations. That doesn't mean there were actual violations, nor does it mean there was unclear evidence. The focus on intention is relevant because it is part of the law. Accidental violations don't count.

      His statement about her being extremely careless is a subjective judgment that others disagree with. Given that he found no evidence of actual violation, he had no business talking about carelessness, because that was not part of his brief. It was gratuitous.

      Of course you want to believe she possibly did break the law, but she didn't. Comey looked and he couldn't find evidence that she broke the law. That means she didn't break the law.

      You need to stop preferring your fantasy to reality.

    4. I actually looked at the law during an earlier debate. Intent is required in some subsections, but not in others.

    5. She didn't do anything wrong. If she had, she would have been charged. There was plenty of "intent" to get her for whatever they could. That they couldn't charge her says everything.

    6. Here's a perfect example of how Trump et al. operate. They facts don't support a charge, so what, believe it anyway and chant "Lock her up" until the public thinks she is guilty, as Trump says "she's guilty as hell." What does it matter that there is no evidence? Facts are irrelevant these days.

    7. I want to know how Hillary had time enough to enrich the Foundation and be Secretary of State while running a pedo ring out of a pizza shop.

    8. Didn't we learn anything from Watergate? Most likely someone that had the goods on Comey hinted that he should come up with something against Clinton.
      When that fizzled, that someone told Comey he better do it right this time because the
      Point Barrow, Alaska office had an unfilled request for a Permanent Latrine Orderly, and Comey was eminently qualified for the post.

    9. BTW. You have probably heard by now that the cyber attack on the Comet Ping Pong Pizza has escalated to real bullets. Of course, the progenitors of the pedophile rumors are blameless. The perp was just a random nut. Move along, folks.

    10. I want to know how Hillary had time enough to enrich the Foundation and be Secretary of State while running a pedo ring out of a pizza shop. Don't forget those late nights with Huma too. It takes 36 hours to do in a 24 hour day everything they accused Hillary of doing.

    11. I wonder what remaining Cabinet position Trump will offer Edgar W. Welch?

      What's your guess, Skurnick?

    12. That'll be a tight squeeze. Pat McCrory's looking for work.

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