Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Stephanopoulos and Comey

Though I haven’t read Comey’s book, I’ve watched the entire interview with Stephanopoulos.  I even learned how to spell George’s Greek last name.  I did not know he was the son of a Greek Orthodox priest or that he had “attended Balliol College at the University of Oxford in England, as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Masters of Arts in theology in 1984. He states that he spent much of his time trying to root his political leanings in the deeper philosophies that he studied while in college.”  (Wiki)

For comparison I hold two Master’s degrees, one an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago which has as much clout as Oxford, and the other an MDiv from Meadville/Lombard which means very little.  In 1984 I was circuit-riding for the UU’s in Montana, which in toto amounts to a medium-sized congregation.  I did not try to fit my politics into white male Western culture, but rather into Blackfeet culture, without being very sure what that is.

So George and I have overlap but we are not entirely alike.  He’s a pop culture guy with a transient career as an actor and personality, but he still has that solid base in respectability.  We both started out in conservative family settings — his “box” more square, historical and strong than mine — and gradually knocked our boundary walls out as experience contradicted them.  I was more unconventional.  Maybe not.

Now Comey.  His “box” was solid and Irish.  “Comey graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1982, majoring in chemistry and religion. His senior thesis analyzed the liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and the conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell, emphasizing their common belief in public action.  He received his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985.”  It’s possible that when Comey was attending the law school, I was typing in the transcription pool, learning computers.  I can attest that the culture there was very Republican and ambitious.  I would also claim that Reinhold Niebuhr and Jerry Falwell are a total mismatch, one that’s reflected in Comey’s life.  That explains a lot.  And Stephanopoulos understood.

The event we are in now will “open up” Comey — the box is Pandora’s.  The moment I tried to find again but didn’t, was a few seconds when Comey was talking and almost accidentally touched on the criminal side of Trump’s life.  He was alert enough to realize that he had broken through a boundary of some kind.  Trump’s face was suddenly dark and hard in a way it had not been before, even in some of his more politically savage moments.  It was a “tell” that reminded Comey of the Mafia.  Not the only one.

Trump’s box has no national or patriotic categories in it.  He talks about such things only by keying off the public reactions, which — since it is volatile and unreasonable — creates his many contradictions and lies.  The public never figures this out.  Trump’s Mafia is hidden behind Trump’s Russia.  Russia is just a form of Mafia.  Putin uses that to control Trump.  

Luckily, Comey knows about the amica nostra, the loyal insiders who turn against the boss only at pain of death.  “I sat there thinking, Holy crap, they are trying to make each of us an 'amica nostra' — friend of ours. To draw us in,” writes Comey, who helped prosecute Gambino members in 2002. “I suddenly had the feeling that, in the blink of an eye , the president-elect was trying to make us all part of the same family.”  Trump knows no other way to do it.  And it is HIS family, his childhood family.

It’s a pretty basic way to understand society.  Tribes operate that way.  I’ve had more than one high school principal who does the same, and — lamentably — so does the UUA run that way, mostly.  Times change and then Gambino goes out.  I watch “Person of Interest”, the television series, because it is based so much on this assumption about how things work.  Almost always — in my experience — the real top power-player is NOT the technically named title-holder.  On the series he’s a “machine” and invisible, but capable of infinite strategies.  Most high school leaders are not so simple, but you'd better keep an eye on the sports program and whoever controls the money.

Everyone forgets that this is the pattern for publishers — they can control what the author says.  Probably the p-tape and the bit about the physical characteristics of Trump were insisted upon by the publisher, who knew readers would go looking for them right away.  (This is the reason I don’t care about publishing — it means accepting rewrites you didn’t intend and are usually unworthy.)  But admittedly there is pull in the idea that there are much worse things than pee in this tale.  The hints are about pedophilia, a current obsession.  Say “rape” and a female child is pictured, not the real range of victims.  Being a college student will increase the likelihood of rape.  One out of ten rape victims are male. 

“A retrospective analysis of 740 reported sexual assaults revealed 21 cases involving a victim between the ages of 60 and 90 years of age. The elderly victim was more often white and the assailant more often black than when younger victims are involved. Also, the data suggest that the rape of elderly women may involve a relatively few rapists, and that their assaults are of a serial nature. This study concludes that these rapists are motivated by anger, possibly racially related, and a need to express power, rather than by sexual desire.”  Are we talking parenticide?  Those two Trump immigrants who never seemed to confirm their boy in a way that satisfied him?

Stephanopoulos is the right person to do this interview, but there will be other good ones.  (Colbert was lively.)  It’s just that having wrestled with Clinton so much, George is inoculated in some way.  Maybe his hip is a little dislocated (Jacob).  He’s persistent, a little playful, proper but tolerant, experienced in a double way since he plays himself in movies, and — like all people who seek insight — resigned to the impossibility of ever really knowing.  He shares that with Comey.

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