Sixty-five years ago, if anyone in America announced that Russians were infiltrating to attack the country, the response would have been overwhelming. Friends, neighbors, family, and authorities would have gathered to defend the country (when it was still called a country and not The Homeland) — regardless of party affiliation. The Red Scares of the 1950s rallied Americans in unity against a common theme and enemy.
Jump to 2017 and James Comey’s testimony yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. During his sworn statements on Thursday, Comey unequivocally confirmed Russia’s widespread and active intrusion into American elections and other sensitive areas.
Consider this: a foreign power with an abysmal human rights record breached America’s digital borders and struck at the fundamental heart of democracy. And the sitting president of the United States, a person charged with protecting and defending the nation and constitution, had no comment except for his own skin.
In the long-awaited battle between James Comey and Donald Trump, America was the clear loser yesterday. Comey’s account of a president who demands mafia-like loyalty; asks only about his own jeopardy — and not the country’s — in the face of Russian cyber incursions; and acts on impulse and “the nature of his person” as a liar presents a dark future for America under Trump.
For all the campaign promises and post-election rallies, there is a growing suspicion among even Trump supporters that the president is not going to accomplish much of what he says. However, his family is building a new hotel chain. As his job approval numbers bottom out in the low 30s this week (Quinnipiac Job Approval 6/7/2017), Trump appears on the verge of a complete political meltdown. More disturbingly, Trump’s nosedive is dragging the Republican led Congress with him, diminishing and deteriorating what little public trust remains. Only 11% of polled Americans approve of the job congress is doing right now (Economist/YouGov 6/7/2017). In six months, one man has managed to corrupt the entire government.
The stark contrast between Comey the white-hatted sheriff and Trump the black-masked villain almost pivots on a single point in Comey’s testimony yesterday. Comey presented himself as a humble patriot. He denounced partisan politics vis-à-vis the current investigation for the benefit of America as a whole. He defended the FBI and his former colleagues.
However, the one thing that Comey said that had nothing to do with his service to the nation came in a gem of a response to Sen. Cotton’s questioning. In addition to looking out for the nation, Comey stated that he wanted to be fair to President Trump. He wanted to be fair — even to the man whom he called a liar; the boss who fired him; the leader whom two-thirds of the country disapproves of; and the president who has devastated a nation.
James Comey could very easily have not been fair. He could have adopted the vengeful GOP tactics and engaged in name-calling and smear campaigns. He did neither. There should be little doubt among Americans today about who has the integrity and credibility of a true patriot. The president did not even deign to respond with concern as to America’s precarious position in the wake of Russian incursions.
More troubling than the president’s lack of reply to America on America, is the continued partisan bickering over the situation in Washington, D.C. Republicans are quick to return to business as usual on Capitol Hill as democrats scurry to save Obama-era progresses. In the context of divide and conquer tactics, with one party trying to salvage Trump’s presidency and the other trying to crucify him, we the people may wake up one morning to a looped recording of “Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii” in place of the morning newski and trafficski.