When I finally got to lay eyes on the Nunes memo, one of my first thoughts was “Oh no, these people are going to have to read (or pretend to read) — a lot!”
Disclaimer — this is not a post about the illiteracy of pig farmers in Alabama, although as a dirty libtard, you might think that I would be inclined toward those. This is an honest look at the mental struggle that it will take to present the memo as anything other than a ridiculous and desperate power play. In the immortal words of Alec Baldwin as the Grim Reaper in Glen Garry Glen Ross: “You think I’m f—king with you? — I’m not f–king you. I’m here from downtown and I’m here on a mission of mercy…”
Getting back to the original point — anyone who wants to suggest that the largely Republican leadership of the FBI and DOJ are corrupt or in a tank or anything else like that will have to memorize key words and catch phrases like “Fusion GPS” and “Christopher Steele” and, well hell, “Devin Nunes” – none of those trip easily off the tongue — but beyond that, they’ll have to read a document that, to our amazement, has been entirely de-classified from top secret — but reads more like a Verizon contract than a spy novel. If you like Tom Clancy, you’re still going to hate the memo.
If you really want to get to the bottom of this, listen to Jacob Weisberg and Dahlia Lithwick on Trumpcast as they discuss what all of this really is — Lithwick says the memo reads like a Fox news report — to me, at first reading, it reads like a bunch of what will be incomprehensible legalese to the majority of the Trump base. Unlike the words of our great fearless leader, the memo doesn’t have a lot of simple action verbs and four or five letter words. It’s quite a dense chronicling of a very bureaucratic procedure that’s really not very exciting, and at the heart of it, not very straightforward.
One of the points that I would most like to make is that we’ve spent years talking about how all FISA court orders are rubber-stamped. We’ve spent years talking about how the Patriot Act lets the government spy on us. Even Rand Paul, that perennial Paul Revere of the Republican arena, routinely tells his followers how intrusive government surveillance is wrong — but we don’t go cherry-picking some random FISA warrant to make our case. Instead, we rely upon that stoic cynicism that has always characterized many red-blooded Americans on the right and the left. We just don’t like being spied on, but we know that we’re being spied on, and we know that the bureaucratic spooks are doing their work behind the scenes. We don’t demand to lift the curtain, and certainly the central question is: why the hell would we lift the curtain in this specific individual case? The answer is not because somebody like Andrew McCabe, who is as white bread middle of the road as it gets, is somehow embarking on some Machiavellian conspiracy to deny a good man his due. The answer is because so many of us have bought into the clownish lies of this fool president that we’re willing to go down this garden path with him. At least some people are. I’m not.
Lithwick and Weisberg also talk about what I feel is the textbook example of how this is going to play “in the heartland” — how people like to use simple phrases and names out of context to try to support opinions that are pure bullshit. They intimate how the name ‘Rod Rosenstein’ sounds vaguely Jewish, and how an uninformed base (really the uninformed base par excellance) might try to paint Rosenstein as a Democrat. All of this also gets into the strange fusion of the traditional right and neo-Nazis by someone who, oddly enough, has Jews in his family, which is also part of his cabinet (see Michael Wolff’s book.) But that’s beside the point. The point is that in the heartland, Rod Rosenstein is going to become shorthand for a pointy-headed Jew, and not known for the actual bureaucratic record that the bureaucrat possesses.
And to get back to the process — the process is going to, in this particular instance, be seen as “corrupt,” (gasp) although anybody with two brain cells to rub together knows that the FISA process is always sketchy, and that when it comes to trying to parse the ways that our government surveills us, it goes no further than something our grandpas always said — you can’t fight City Hall.
Mr. Trump went bravely out to fight City Hall, and his team is marching behind him with pitchforks, but they really don’t want to read the memo. Many of them will not read it — they will parrot phrases that their pastors or somebody told them in some kind of warped or declined context, phrases like Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele and Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein. They will speak these names and events and places as if they were some liturgical sacrum of the medieval age, without knowing what they mean, but with all the passion of a 13th century chorister. I’m getting really tired of this bullshit — how about you?