Does anyone else have the strange feeling that we’re caught up in some Shakespearian tragedy, some skullduggery creeping through the entourage of Henry VIII? I sense spies hiding in the curtains and hear whispers behind the potted palms. I’ve always thought of American politics as functioning in a fairly straightforward way, without the baroque, twisted nature of the old European courts. But here we are. Last week, watching Comey testify I kept hearing in my head the words of Iago in the opening act of Othello,
I follow him to serve my turn upon him: /We cannot all be masters, nor all masters /Cannot be truly follow'd.
Iago is the evilest character in all of fictional literature. Throughout the play, he is referred to as “Honest Iago.” He’s really good at being bad. He looked good, competent, confident. Weren’t we told how honest Comey is? What a fine, upstanding person he is? Doesn’t he give that appearance? Tall, handsome, impeccably dressed, buttoning his suit jacket in the appropriate lawyerly manner, looking straight into the eyes of those he lies to. Iago is also fond of breaking the fourth wall – he comes right down to the footlights, looks the audience right in the eye and tells us what he’s going to do to Othello. And there we sit, stuck in our seats, unable to do anything to warn him. I felt like that listening to Comey as he told us that he leaked his memos in order to get a special counsel set up to investigate Trump (This he did right after Trump fired him.), yet no one rushed out and arrested him. No audible gasps, no rolling eyes – nothing. It was like he’d just announced that he’d had lunch.
Last July Jim Comey shocked us all with his weird testimony about Hillary and her errant emails. Yes, she’s guilty. No, we won’t indict her. Huh? The whole nation walked around with wrinkled brows for weeks. What kind of a Janus act was this guy performing? Iago liked to swear, “By Janus!” I heard him again: Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,/ But seeming so, for my peculiar end:..
His “end” is peculiar indeed. Is he motivated by hatred for Trump? Or by fear of Hillary? Or fear of Obama? Obama was still in office during these first two forays. Both of them are dangerous people, so fear of them is not as irrational as hatred of Trump.
Or – more likely yet – is he motivated by his own ambitions, his own greed? That motivates many a villain. Comey once worked at Lockheed Martin where in one year he earned $6 million as vice president and general counsel(It is interesting to note that Lockheed is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.) His questionable connections to a London bank and to his brother’s real estate dealings also raise character questions. We never do know Iago’s motivations; he tells us, but he keeps changing his mind, and his wife, speaking of his jealousies, says:
They are never jealous for the cause./They are jealous for they are jealous.
It’s hard to tell what Comey is up to; it’s like trying to stay ahead of Thomas Cromwell. On July 5th he announces his Hillary-guilty-but decision (which was not his to make). On October 28th, he announces he’s reopening the investigation into her emails, then turns around, less than a month later and just 48 hours before the election, and says, basically, “Never mind.” What maneuver is this? What palace intrigue?
Never mind! On Hillary’s watch, and under her supervision classified information was left to wander the streets alone, at night, in fact, ended up on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, well-known pervert and husband to Hillary’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin who has well-known close family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And the perfect, “honest” Comey is willing to look the other way. Never mind. Nothing to see here; move right along.
This man was the head of the FBI, but we cannot tell whether he’s at all interested in the well-being of the people of the United States, or just intense about the well-being of James Comey. He certainly was interested in expressing his feelings about things but had no factual, useful information for us. He felt strange; he was very concerned; he was even nauseous on occasion. Do any of us care how he felt? I had always thought of the FBI as a just-the-facts-ma’am kind of organization.
To make matters even more unsettling, now that the Russia conspiracy has fizzled like cotton candy on a hot day, he’s drummed up some real serious reservations about Trump’s General Flynn comment – which only Comey heard and which Comey only brought up after Trump had fired him. Curiouser and curiouser.
And why is Comey’s BFF the special prosecutor trying to prove The Donald obstructed justice? How can you obstruct justice if no crime has been committed? Trump, could, if he needed to, just pardon Flynn, but the General doesn’t seem to have done anything illegal; talking to the Russians was his job. And if Comey thought Trump’s remarks were an order to circumvent prosecuting Flynn, why didn’t Comey do what he thought he was told? But he didn’t do anything until he lost his job.
I am glad to see the President no longer trusts this man. It was good that he waited until Comey was not around to fire him – no chance for this Judas to hide anything. I do wonder what Trump has on him and I do hope it’s good, for Comey appears to be doing the same thing Iago did to Othello –
…practising upon his peace and quiet Even to madness.
Later in the play, Iago, attempting to convince Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity, says,
I speak not yet of proof.
There wasn’t any because she was innocent. Then later he adds:
And this may help to thicken other proofs/ That do demonstrate thinly.
But there weren’t any other proofs. A point Othello misses. It’s a point the media and those who pay attention to it miss as well. There are no proofs. Of anything. There’s no evidence of any behavior even slightly unethical, let alone illegal. But charge ahead they will.
They do because all they have to accomplish is to kill Trump’s reputation and that’s not hard to do. As Iago points out to Cassio (whose reputation he has just destroyed:
Reputation is an idle and most false imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without deserving… He (and Comey) should know.
Yet later on in Act IV he tells Othello:
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,/ Is the immediate jewel of their souls: /Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; /'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands: /But he that filches from me my good name/ Robs me of that which not enriches him /And makes me poor indeed.
And knowing that, he went right ahead and did everything to ruin the reputations of Othello’s wife, his best friend, and of Othello himself.
Throughout the play, Iago knows exactly what he’s doing. Throughout the Trump presidency, Comey has known what he was doing, too. I don’t think he’s as smart and sly as Iago, but he’s attempting to ruin the president and he’s using many of Iago’s methods to do so. We should remember as we watch this drama unfold that, though by the end of the play 5 people are dead including Othello and Desdemona, Iago is hauled off to the dungeon to be tortured and executed. Comey will get his – I just pray it’s before he does more damage, not after.