As last night turned into this morning, the James Comey hearing rolled on. At its closure, what I learned was that we should stop braying for impeachment, as it’s not going to happen.
I, like many Australians, sat up way past my bedtime last night to observe the witness testimony of James Comey, bound by law, unmuffled by the gag of the presidency, and I, like many Australians this morning, have shoulders slung low, eyes tortured in the deep sacks of squandered sleep and the corners of my mouth creased with the folded frown of disappointment. If you missed it, you missed nothing, and I envy you.
There was no home run moment, no historic trite barb that could be spun into meme or into headline, there were no assurances that people weren’t crooks, there were no sexual relationships with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. Instead, we clung to the raft of James Comey breaking dinner with the spouse as we were all cast downstream on a pulsing ripple of doublespeak and pork pies.
But you know what? We should have known better.
There were clear hints at the arriving cockblockery, as the spooling insanity of the comment section of the YouTube feed said it all. Reading between the lines of the bent haikus of “Trump supporters get your excuses out”, “Hillary for jail” and “Covfefe did nothing wrong. Snowflakes” lay the truth: regardless of the result, or indeed James Comey’s assertions (even if he claimed that Donald Trump is Beelzebub, it would be irrelevant), the nation will remain divided and the glum, ignorant whine proves that whatever sentences are uttered under the gaze of a judge, and in law, will do nothing but muddy the waters further. What is he really saying?
The collected media, social or professional, seek a hanging. A slam dunk. The final proof of Trump’s wrongdoing, the mystery glowing object in the briefcase we never see – Comey stepping through the rain of shutter-clicks. As the hearing gradually brought itself to its feet, we all desperately hoped to hear the naughty word, the “c-word” – collusion – but after an hour, filled by the turgid sound of those asking the questions hearing themselves talk; grandstanding, grandstanding everywhere.
The pre-game talk was a muddle of grey, a butchering of English, the assembly instructions on the flat pack cabinet that no-one reads. We already know what it looks like in the study, we’ve done our homework. We would be certain to witness black and white certainty, because the mission statement told us so. Finally released from the narration of the speaker, what we came to witness was James Comey offering half answers, admitting what we wanted to hear, but turning it around in classic Sargeant Shultz fashion, claiming that he knows nussing.
Q: Do you believe that Trump colluded with Russia?
Comey: “That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting.” pic.twitter.com/Ee2giR2Klb
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017
I glance at my watch, and the small numbers roll their eyes at me. What was I doing? “Watergate 2.0”, “Basic Bitch Face”, “Trump is ISIS”, the diatribes in the chat window echoed the statements from the committee. All waved the flag of democracy, punctured by the musket of paranoia. Internet: Chaos is the new black. Saving democracy is more important than seeking the truth. The currency of meaning was suffering from hyperinflation.
Comey: I interpreted it as a request to let him go.
Speaker: Did anyone ask you to stop the investigation?
Speaker: The President?
Comey: No. No-one.
Nothing proven, nothing gained.
Speaker: Do you believe that the conversation was to obstruct justice?
Comey: Disturbing, yes. Obstruction, no.
Are there recordings of conversations w/ Trump?
Comey: “I hope there are… Release all the tapes. I’m good with it.” https://t.co/3ShPz1LGTR
— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2017
Internet: He was bribed by Trump to not talk.
Helluva moment: “They’re coming after America!” Comey makes an impassioned plea for people to care about Russian intrusions in our democracy pic.twitter.com/ZbADetsBsU
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017
Blah blah blah.
One can easily succumb to the quicksand of information sans context, but these snapshots directly echo the hearing. We knew the background of the facts. The firing, the probe, the mafioso request for loyalty. What we received was nothing close to closure. The bike we were promised for Christmas turned into a pair of socks. What we witnessed was a spate of hand-wringing on both sides, the GOP saving face, the Democrats trying to slap it. What we’re left with in morning light is yet more questions as we find ourselves further from a clean answer.
Consider this not to be done, not by the longest of shots, but consider it over. As my hand screams complaint, the truth is obvious. We should pack away the brass horns that trumpet impeachment, and start learning a new instrument.