As amusing as last week’s Comey hearings were — especially with nominally NeverTrump types defending The Leader from a former FBI director — they shared the spotlight with a foreign phenomenon: the collapse of the Conservatives in Great Britain, and the huge gains for Labour leader and right-wing boogeyman Jeremy Corbyn.
Why? Conservatives sucking up to The Leader is dog bites man, but it’s rare and deeply satisfying when anything actually scares them — as a really left-wing English-speaking politician coming close to power clearly has.
Not that the conservative response to Comey’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing didn’t have its pleasures. Though the testimony of an FBI director fired by a feckless president for getting too close to his administration’s malfeasance troubled normal people, most of the brethren either affected yawns (“Comey hearing will probably be a worthless spectacle,” pre-empted Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner) or even claimed it was Comey himself who should expect indictment.
William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, for example, said Comey leaking his own memos to cover his ass “may put Comey himself in legal jeopardy.” “Comey’s Leaking Of Memos Could Land Him In Legal Hot Water,” agreed the Daily Caller. “James Comey’s Latest Statement Is An Indictment Of Comey, Not Trump,” declared Sean Davis of the Federalist. “Is James Comey heroic or facing indictment?” asked Fox News. “Your honor,” they said, wrapping an arm around their blood-stained client,“the wrong man is on trial here!”
National Review, erstwhile home of the NeverTrumps, ran an editorial called “Comey’s Weak Case”: The Leader “behaved irresponsibly,” they admitted, but because “the president never followed up on his comment about the Flynn affair” — that is, on his Mafioso-like “I hope you can let this go” comment — and “Comey continued the Flynn investigation,” that proved Comey “didn’t really consider it a directive.” The theory seems to be that, if Comey actually thought Trump was making an improper request, he naturally would have granted it.
Other National Review columnists joined the editors on Trump’s limited hangout route. Even the more reserved Jonah Goldberg said, “Look, I am perfectly happy to concede that James Comey is no Boy Scout. I’ve long said he’s much too interested in protecting his reputation as a Boy Scout to actually be one.” While his readers were trying to puzzle that one out, Goldberg went on: “I’m more sympathetic to Comey than most, but I also think he should have been fired.” He didn’t say why, but added, “My objection to Trump’s firing him was always grounded in the clumsy, self-destructive nature of it. If the president had simply done it the right way and afforded Comey some minimal dignity and respect, Trump wouldn’t be in the mess he’s in today.” In other words, it’s not like these Senate hearings are over anything that can’t be patched up with better people skills.
At the New York Times, David Brooks found it “likely that the Comey firing had little or nothing to do with the Flynn investigation.” How’d he figure that? “Trump was, as always, thinking about himself,” said Brooks, so he must have fired Comey because “Comey was disloyal, an unforgivable sin.” It was a reverse Godfather: not business, strictly personal.
Warming to his psychological study, Brooks went on to paint a portrait of Trump “plagued with a self-destructive form of selfishness…. In search of praise he is continually doing things that will end up bringing him condemnation.” Brooks also said there’s no grounds for impeachment, which is a good thing, because such a harsh sentence might damage The Leader’s tender psyche.
Hard to say what will come of this: Given what Trump’s gotten away with so far, why wouldn’t he just walk away from this saying, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” Also, it looks like the Senate Judiciary Committee will bring the Loretta Lynch–Clinton activities into its remit, and you know once Congress gets a Clinton on the stand, it’s reluctant to pay attention to anything else for years.
But let us not discount the long game and the changes it can bring.
For many months, all the forces of local and international wing-nuttery conspired against British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, with headlines like “APOLOGISTS FOR TERROR” and “JEZZA’S JIHADI COMRADES,” and declared that Labour would massively lose the June 8 U.K. general election.
Yet Corbyn actually led Labour to a stunning 32-seat gain, while Conservative prime minister Theresa May lost 13 seats and the Tory majority; she is at this writing trying to cobble a government with the aid of the Ian Paisley types of the Democratic Unionist Party.
How did our stateside wing nuts handle this? Just before the election, National Review’s Andrew Stuttaford put horns on Corbyn: He was “brought up in a left-wing family that was reasonably well-off,” Stuttaford said, and “could easily be mistaken for one of those 1960s student radicals,” except he had been a “less than academic individual…only able to stick with ‘Trade Union Studies’ at the Polytechnic of North London” — not like our genius American president! — and now represented in Parliament “Islington North, a part of the city being gentrified by the educated, metropolitan Left…”
It was the portrait of a pampered limousine liberal — and also of a dangerous radical. Stuttaford went on to say that Corbyn “had dealings with leaders of Sinn Fein, the party often labeled the ‘political wing’ of the IRA” — which is only excusable if you’re GOP representative Peter King. Plus, Corbyn was “drawn to the hard men, the killers and the thugs,” had an “attraction to Islamism,” and even evinced “a whiff of sulfur.”
When the election came, some conservatives played down the catastrophe: “Theresa May pulls out slim victory,” headlined Legal Insurrection. At Breitbart, Liam Deacon found the real reason for the Labour surge: “BRITISH MUSLIMS WERE URGED TO VOTE LABOUR TO FURTHER ISLAMIC INTERESTS.”
Theodore Dalyrimple at City Journal suggested May had come a cropper because she wasn’t right-wing enough: “Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind,” he wrote with evident disgust, and was thus outflanked by Corbyn, “just as a moderate Muslim can always be outflanked by someone more Islamic than he.” (Muslims! Knew they were in there somewhere.) Add the bought votes of young layabouts lured by Labour’s “beguiling vision of living perpetually at the expense of others,” and May hadn’t a chance.
PJ Media’s Michael Walsh blasted May not only for being “unable to stand up to bogus charges of ‘racism’ ” and “start a serious crackdown on the hordes of foreign Muslims,” but, most damningly, for being “yet another childless leader of an increasingly barren European country…”
So maybe what’s needed is a quiverfull-icious Sarah Palin type! Or maybe a Leader type — Steven Hayward of Power Line called for the Conservatives to unite behind buffoon Boris Johnson as “a sincere Brexiteer” with “Trump-like hair.” Apparently the solution is whatever worked last time. Unfortunately for them, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. can hold off a new round of elections indefinitely, and, whether or not voters are getting more enlightened, they do seem to be getting sick of the status quo.