It has been a tough year for progressives, and hardest hit have been progressives of a certain age. Glowering old people were forced by Donald Trump grumpily to forgo popping up and down in their seats at the State of the Union Address. Orthopedically-convenient or not, that still hurt. But this was not the worst of it. Neither was the slapstick in which Democratic candidates and elected officials like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Debbie Wasserman Shultz, old enough to remember FORTRAN, are tripped up by technologies and the IT Guys who come along with them.
No, what is really tough is the cognitive dissonance of maintaining The Resistance to populism in the Age of Trump while still embracing a long youthful flirtation with “Power to the People.”
How easy it seemed in the good old days when Carl Bernstein hammered sinister G-Men and “government surveillance…conducted by intelligence agencies without the proper oversight … by the legislative and judicial branches of government charged with such oversight.” When his old Watergate sidekick told the admiring students of Bill Clinton’s law school that “government secrecy is a bigger threat to America than terrorism or economic collapse,” it was all so simple and unambiguous. If only it could have stayed that way.
Now as soon as progressive geezers log out of their burgeoning retirement account summaries and open that venerable repository of correct thinking, The Nation, the cognitive dissonance hits. One day what passes for traditional wisdom among comfortable Baby Boomers is affirmed: “This does not mean the FBI should be given carte blanche to carry on free from criticism,” declares an article warning that the FBI is the “worst possible candidate for the job” of monitoring social media “to counter foreign influence and disinformation.”
But how to square this with what comes the following day– embracing as legitimate the “grave concerns” of the FBI bosses about releasing information concerning its surveillance activities against an American citizen, and its Schifty congressional champions’ condemnation of “smears” against the FBI and the Justice Department that supposedly threaten the very foundation of popular government?
The source of the problem, of course, is that in the years since Carl Bernstein was a 38-short, the left has made its long march through the institutions. The suits, if not the workaday flatfoots, at the FBI and the DOJ are Bill Clinton’s law school classmates and their successors. They run things now. Their incomes explain why the zip codes around Washington DC are among the richest in the country; their perspectives, experiences and tastes dictate what is acceptable and what is deplorable; when faced with being fired they have the grease to permit cashing in accrued annual leave to assure making it to full retirement, and, of course, they know what is newsworthy and what is not.
All of this is a long-winded way of pointing to the real issue raised by the hysterical assault on the Nunes memo: namely, will the status quo be preserved? Legal and constitutional niceties are fine, but not when their observance prolongs the White House tenure of a Deplorable with the temerity to threaten the status quo. Transparency sounds great, but not when it reveals a FISA Court judge’s wink and nod or credulity because the aura of high-minded brilliance among those who govern is a pillar of that same status quo.
Lines in the Sand
Rising employment and a healthy stock market are fine, but not when they cast doubt on the legacies of the Clintons and Barack Obama and all of the charmed Elect who served them. Therefore, the assault on a duly-elected and empanelled congressional committee carrying out its duty must be recognized for what it is: the permanent government is drawing a line and daring Americans to cross it.
The Court is taunting the Country. So forget all the proceduralization of this story, mindless blather about “evidence of bias” and squabbling TV lawyers. Instead, read the Strzok /Page billets-doux and Comey Twitter sneers for their literal sense, as fighting words: Do you inconsequential little people actually believe that you can do better than we can? Reflect, and then respond with the firm determination to protect what has already been achieved and extend the gains in 2018.