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Can This Please Be the End of Republican Daddies in Democratic Administrations?

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Above: Exclusive footage of James Comey’s tenure as a casino employee

Barack Obama, for reasons I’ve never understood, chose a Republican to be head of the FBI. His reward? James Comey — truly a hack in full — going over the heads of his bosses to send an letter to his Republican friends in Congress he had no obligation to send and contained no actual information but was worded in a way that insinuated that Hillary Clinton might have engaged in wrongdoing. I don’t know if Comey was consciously trying to influence the election in favor of Trump, but either he was in on it or he was too dumb to know he was being set up by Jason Chaffetz. It’s hard to overstate how disgraceful this conduct is:

With each step, Comey moved further away from department guidelines and precedents, culminating in Friday’s letter to Congress. This letter not only violated Justice rules on commenting on ongoing investigations but also flew in the face of years of precedent about how to handle sensitive cases as Election Day nears.

Justice traditionally bends over backward to avoid taking any action that might be seen by the public as influencing an election, often declining to even take private steps that might become public in the 60 days leading up to an election. For an example, in one case of which I am aware, the FBI opened an investigation into a high-ranking public official shortly before an election but delayed sending any subpoenas until after the election for fear that they might leak and unfairly tarnish the official. Indeed, that investigation ultimately concluded with no charges.

Comey’s subordinates have argued through anonymous quotes to reporters that he felt compelled to update Congress because of his previous explanations to them. But that just exposes how ill-advised his earlier statements were. Furthermore, even if he felt compelled to update Congress at some point, he could have followed Justice guidelines and done so after the election.

Supporters of the FBI director also argue that he would have been criticized had he withheld this information until after the election. But he didn’t actually provide Congress or the public with any substantive information. Instead, he provided just enough detail to allow Republicans to make speculative charges about Clinton, but not enough to allow her to defend herself. In fact, in the hours since Comey’s letter was released, media outlets have reported often-contradictory details about what the FBI is actually examining, another inevitable result of his actions.

Jane Mayer has more on why his decisions were procedurally and substantively indefensible:

In Friday, James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, acting independently of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, sent a letter to Congress saying that the F.B.I. had discovered e-mails that were potentially relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server. Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.

Comey’s decision is a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials. Comey, who is a Republican appointee of President Obama, has a reputation for integrity and independence, but his latest action is stirring an extraordinary level of concern among legal authorities, who see it as potentially affecting the outcome of the Presidential and congressional elections.

“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

Comey should be out of a job as we speak, but the beauty of it from his perspective is that he’s politically insulated from getting his deserts, because for either Obama or Clinton to fire him would make it look like he was actually onto something, like a Saturday Night Massacre II.

I do hope that, at least, Hillary Clinton takes this as a long overdue hint that Democratic presidents should stop putting Republicans in important administration jobs. Even when, like Bernake, they’re competent and relatively progressive within their specialized fields, it creates the impression that Republicans are the Party of Adults (which is particularly silly when the typical Republican public official in 2016 is an ideological fanatic who couldn’t be trusted to run a lemonade stand with Ice-T’s supervision.) At worst, you end up with cases like this, when it would require the wisdom of Solomon to determine the precise ratio of malevolence-to-incompetence involved.

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  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    And yet, here’s Josh Marshall over at TPM yesterday:

    I have always had a great deal of respect for James Comey, going back to decisions he made and actions he took during the Bush administration where he he made principled and correct decisions in opposition to other political appointees. I am not ready to revise my take on him based on today’s announcement or his scathing and unprecedented comments about Secretary Clinton in July.

    The investment of the Inside the Beltway contingent of the “left” / Democratic Party in always affirming the existence of serious and fair-minded Republicans both flies in the face of political reality in the early 21st century and plays right into the hands of today’s GOP, which is all about ratfucking and monkeywrenching their opposition by any means necessary.

    • vic rattlehead

      I thought he was smarter than that.

      • M. Krebs

        Read all of Marshall’s piece.

        • vic rattlehead

          I am not ready to revise my take on him based on today’s announcement or his scathing and unprecedented comments about Secretary Clinton in July.

          Come the fuck on. Not ready to revise his positive opinion of Comey even after July? The piece is tripe.

        • Joe_JP

          I read his piece from yesterday and then today.

          He basically doesn’t want to see bad faith but now appears to me to think Comey is acting like a naive idiot in various respects. He also, including looking at his tweets, seems to accept some possibility of him fearing negative Republican reactions that lead to misjudgment. A “mea culpa” on his earlier remarks seems quite possible.

          • vic rattlehead

            Calling Comey naive is really being too charitable. He’s FBI Director. He was a US Attorney. He broke with years of Justice tradition. He gratuitously slammed Clinton in July.

            He doesn’t deserve the presumption of naïveté here. And anyone who argues that is a hack or a coward.

            • Or naive.

            • Manny Kant

              I think Marshall is still giving Comey credit for refusing to be a Bush administration stooge over the NSA warrantless wiretapping stuff.

              • A story deftly played by Comey.

              • vic rattlehead

                Sure he deserves credit for that. But that has nothing to do with what’s going on now. He did the right thing several years ago so I’m going to withhold judgment when powerful counter evidence is staring me in the face is not an intelligent position.

              • ploeg

                It is a pattern with Comey. Comey wasn’t willing to go so far as to press charges against Clinton at Chaffetz’s whim, but he was willing to hold a press conference to say that Clinton was a bad bad bad person. There’s limits to his hackishness, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a hack.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Puh-leeze, I don’t think Comey should ever have been named because of the reasons Loomis cite. But objecting because his press conference punctured the belief that Hill was responsibly handling email? That’s balderdash. The FBI has an institutional interest in safeguarding US Intel. It’s reasonable for him to voice his displeasure. Plus It’s relevant information for voters that a would be president and sitting Secretary of State mishandled sensitive communications. Progressives of all people should want transparent government. Despite the fact that her predecessors engaged in similar practices its no excuse. Separate and apart from yesterday’s letter, there was nothing wrong with his press conference.

              • Warren Terra

                Stories on George W Bush’s Justice Department – most famously the US Attorney firings but really anything Alberto Gonzales touched – were how TPM really made a breakthrough and became established. It’s easy to see how Comey being seen as a good guy in that context could play an outsized role in Josh Marshall’s assessment of him, and not impossible that Comey and Marshall developed some sort of relationship, for example that Comey may have been an off-the-record source about his time under AG Gonzales.

              • Phil Perspective

                I think Marshall is still giving Comey credit for refusing to be a Bush administration stooge over the NSA warrantless wiretapping stuff.

                It was the only time Comey ever did anything worth a shit. One time! He never tried to stop C- Augustus in anything else. But then Marshall is part of Versailles.

            • Drexciya

              He doesn’t deserve the presumption of naïveté here. And anyone who argues that is a hack or a coward.

              They’re also forgetting that Comey pushed the racist, dangerous lie that the “Ferguson Effect” of seeking accountability for murder and abuse was undermining good, tough, crime-suppressing police work when it was clear that it had no empirical grounding or utility and when, by his own admission, he had no statistical basis for it:

              The director of the F.B.I. reignited the factious debate over a so-called “Ferguson effect” on Wednesday, saying that he believed less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities.

              James Comey, the director, said that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a “viral video effect” — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — “could well be at the heart” of a spike in violent crime in some cities.

              “There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.

              Mr. Comey was wading back into a dispute from last fall that pitted him against some of his bosses at the White House and the Justice Department and one that roiled racial tensions over confrontations between police officers and minorities.

              He first raised the idea in October that a “chill wind” had deterred aggressive policing. But Obama administration officials distanced themselves from Mr. Comey at the time. They said they had seen no evidence to support the idea of a “Ferguson effect,” named after the 2014 shooting by a police officer of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., which sparked widespread protests.

              That’s not the response of anyone but a noxious political actor that’s using the prestige of his position to advance his politics, regardless of propriety or justification. If that’s what people need to overlook—in addition to his partisan interventions throughout the election—to call Comey a good faith figure, then Marshall should examine his principles and morality alongside his judgment. No progressive cause is advanced by running interference for him.

              • djw

                Thanks for that reminder. “Boy scout” my ass.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Yep if anyone needed proof that he never should’ve been appointed that’s it. The White House should’ve demanded his resignation over that.

            • The Lorax

              Yeah, he did all he could to damage Clinton in that presser. Total hit job.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Balderdash. A total hit job would’ve been an arrest.

        • lhartmann

          I read it all and agree with IB. The BS press conference slamming Hillary was already against all proper procedure and was clearly motivated by Comey trying to protect himself from criticism, putting his interests above those of justice. This latest letter is just the icing on the cake. I would say “Sad!” but I’m too angry.

          • tsam

            Yeah-he opened that press conference by matter-of-factly stating that they tried everything they could to build a case. That’s plain dereliction by itself.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Putting his interests above those of justice? Excuse me was an innocent person prosecuted here? Did a guilty person go free?

            There’s no interest of justice implicated here. Just partisan interest.

        • Shalimar

          Marshall’s argument is laughable. Even if it was possible to become Director of the FBI while being that politically naive, Comey is still smart enough to evaluate the consequences once they are pointed out to him. Lynch pointed them out to him and he did it anyway.

    • The Dark God of Time

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/astounding–2

      He’s hardly in the Beltway, FWIW.

    • dporpentine

      Marshall supported the invasion of Iraq. That’s like a certificate in GOP Daddy Loving.

      • catbirdman

        Bingo.

        • Mayur

          WHY, after all this time, is this not an automatic disqualifier when evaluating someone’s deep judgment on the issues?

          I *still* have bad flashbacks about feeling like I was taking crazy pills in 2003. People like John Cole get a pass from me because they fervently, genuinely repented. Yglesias etc get a soft pass because they’ve somewhat repented. That’s about it.

          I saw literally hundreds of thousands of people (on TV and in person) protesting that debacle. As far as I’m concerned, that means that any of the idiots who supported it are ranked (X times 100,000) on the list of people who should be read and/or listened to about policy decisions.

  • M. Krebs

    Comey is a Boy Scout, which has served him well until this year. But he’s apparently a very naïve Boy Scout who doesn’t or refuses to understand politics. I don’t think he’s the rat-fucker type.

    • Boy Scouts are supposed to help old ladies cross the street, not push them into gutters.

      At least that’s the way I always heard it.

    • lawtalkingguy

      Hes a boy scout who is only concerned with preserving his reputation as a boy scout. Which is why he held that press conference in July and why he wrote this comically ambiguous letter over DoJ policy and explicit warnings to him that this would be unprecedented. He is either colossally naive, which seems unbelievable, or he buckled under GOP pressure. Which is how the Trump campaign is briefing it.

      In other words, to avoid looking like a punk he managed to embarrass himself and still gets bullied by Trump. Like the rest of the GOP.

    • PEOPLE:

      THE DIRECTOR OF THE FUCKING FBI IS NOT “NAIVE.”

      NOT HOW POWER WORKS.

      • Kalil

        THE DIRECTOR OF THE FUCKING FBI IS NOT “NAIVE.”

        NOT HOW POWER WORKS.

        That’s basically the short version of Lemiux’s post.

        Furthermore, any ‘naivette’ should be well and thoroughly dispelled by this morning, and the appropriate and honorable behavior would be a public statement w/ a full mea culpa on his failure to follow past procedure, an open condemnation of Chaffetz’s misrepresentation of the case, and a proffering of his resignation (which Obama would probably reject on the grounds of ‘a three month vacancy would be silly’).

        • vic rattlehead

          If people *really* think Comey is this naive, they should be calling for him to resign. FBI Director is no job for a naïf.

          • XTPD

            Also: Comey straight-up admits he’s a hack. (And a fucking incompetent one at that, too, since the MSM backlash took place within hours).

            Come January 20, Comey should be fired, from a B-52, directly into Mt. Nyiragongo.

            • jamesepowell

              Really he should resign. It would be the only act that would convince me that he has any integrity at all.

              • tsam

                Yeah, I think he’s already stamped out the last of any presumption of integrity. He was already metaphorically being hauled out to the guillotine after stating that he tried everything he could to put a case together against Hillary Clinton on the email server. That’s NOT how law enforcement works. You investigate the evidence, and if evidence proves a crime was committed, you refer it for prosecution. When law enforcement openly admits to trying to build a case where one doesn’t exist, and expresses disappointment over it, we have a great big fucking problem.

            • efgoldman

              Come January 20, Comey should be fired

              Nope. Obama should do it the day after the election, and fuck the optics.

              • jcricket

                Amen to that.

    • djw

      This is not boy scout behavior.

    • Shalimar

      Politically naive boy scouts don’t become leaders of intelligence organizations.

    • bobbo1

      A self-righteous, sanctimonious Boy Scout. Firmly believes in the extreme courage and patriotism of whatever he does, consequences be damned

    • I think we have to take multiple violations of long standing procedure as conclusive evidence of not being a Boy Scout in either the relentlessly honest and honourable or in the always prepared senses.

    • malraux

      FFS, Robert Gates is a Boy Scout. I can’t find any evidence Comey is/was.

  • Obama owes it to Clinton to fire him after election. That July pressed makes it impossible for him to serve under Clinton.

    Comet must suspect this, which makes the letter look like a try at keeping his job by getting Trump elected.

    • Totally not typed while driving!

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        Blitzen would have done things by the book

      • howard

        the very thing i was going to say: obama should fire comey the day after the election, end of story.

        • Keaaukane

          Could be fun for Obama. “As your friend Donald Trump likes to say, You’re fired!”

          • creature

            This would be worthy of a presser, with Obama talking about something like the DAPL protest, and pivot to Comey (on the dais because the Federal interest in the protest), whip out that line to flush his ass, for all to watch and see and chortle about.

            President Badass has no reason to even consider ‘fucks to give.’

            • The Lorax

              He’d rightly be worried about the press spinning it as Saturday Night Massacre II. Bad for Clinton.

      • dl

        stop typing and driving, idiot

    • smott999

      I hope Dems rise up to vote in even greater numbers.
      If this clown manages to keep the Senate GOP, then he will have done his job.

  • Thrax

    If this isn’t put to bed before November 8th–and maybe even if it is–this will certainly be the last time a president names an FBI director from the opposite party. I guess opinions can differ about whether that’s a good thing. Definitely not a good thing: there will be a strong temptation to choose political hacks rather than well-respected career prosecutors who happen to be of the president’s party but who might think independently once in a while.

    I’m not saying it was a good idea to choose Comey, but the long-term outcome of this is probably going to be even worse than a Comey-led FBI.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      yeah, I would think there are plenty of D prosecutors who aren’t hacks. probably fewer R ones but no doubt they exist

    • Thrax

      For “career prosecutor,” read “career G-man,” of course. TBF, Comey is acting more like a prosecutor than a law enforcement guy.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        the thing I am wondering about now is how difficult it would be to find non-R leaning FBI staff to promote into the directorship. Reading about this elsewhere it seems Comey might well have been trying to stay ahead of leaks from within the FBI. Word is there has been some internal unrest from people unhappy Comey didn’t push harder on the previous investigation of Clinton

    • CP

      Definitely not a good thing: there will be a strong temptation to choose political hacks rather than well-respected career prosecutors who happen to be of the president’s party but who might think independently once in a while.

      As things stand now, we’re already choosing political hacks, we’re just abiding by an unspoken and truly bizarre rule that it’s only okay if they’re Republican hacks.

      Comey trying to fuck with a presidential election is a very respectable last straw. The security state is already far too much of a right wing social club as it is.

      • Thrax

        I’m not saying it was a good idea to choose Comey. I’m saying the pendulum is likely to swing very far in the other direction, to the detriment of the FBI.

    • addicted44

      As we are learning, Obama already picked a political hack.

      If we are gonna be picking hacks, might as well pick ones that are on the decent side of the spectrum.

    • I guess opinions can differ about whether that’s a good thing.

      Those who think that might want to review the scorpion and the frog.

      • Colin Day

        But it’s in their nature to not review the Scorpion and the Frog.

  • Joe_JP

    These days, there are many political corruption investigations and I think it a good idea for the FBI not to be headed by someone that could be seen as a partisan of the President’s own party.

    So, you know, I kinda see the point of appointing someone like Comey, especially to throw a bone out there of bipartisanship to appease various forces. He did show some spine during the Bush Administration, even if people think that’s a low bar.

    I don’t want any “daddies” here but need to take special care. Don’t want the head of the FBI just to be some sort of Democratic insider/regular akin to some Cabinet head.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Cf. IB’s comment above.

      • Joe_JP

        Uh huh. So?

        Comey “in the early 21st Century” did show spine.

        If some credible “Republican” is as likely to be found as a unicorn,* still think the FBI director needs to be more independent than other positions. There are a range of Democrats and independents out there, some not big Clinton fans, so pick one of those to show some independence.

        I’d say this when a Republican is in office & some insider type is up for FBI head too.

        * If people like Orin Kerr or whatever are just corrupt hacks etc.

        • vic rattlehead

          You can say whatever the fuck you want when a Republican is in office and they won’t care, so that’s useless posturing.

          I’m all for not having an insider. Just not a Republican. A career prosecutor who made his/her bones in a democratic administration would be fine.

          And there is a big problem with “not big Clinton fans.” I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to honestly investigate a Clinton after the past 25 years of bullshit. Ken Starr ruined that. I’d rather have a hack to balance out the Chaffetz bullshit.

          • Joe_JP

            You can say whatever the fuck you want when a Republican is in office and they won’t care, so that’s useless posturing.

            Fine. Each time people talk about ideal actions for Presidents (or any office), you can add “of course when a Republican is in office, s/he will be a troll.”

            I’m all for not having an insider.

            Such is my bottom line.

            “not big Clinton fans”

            There are various factions of Democrats and some are not great Clinton fans politically or ideologically. Doesn’t mean they necessarily dislike them. Just see some value in not picking the FBI director from Clinton partisans or whatever.

    • vic rattlehead

      You can hire someone who doesn’t seem partisan without hiring a Republican. And the term is 10 years, so that has to be taken into account as well. If Obama had lost in 2012, and Romney served two terms, Comey would have been the FBI director his entire administration. I think that sort of puts the kibbosh in that argument.

      And I have an extremely hard time seeing a Republican president appointing a democratic FBI Director. I’m not saying Republican assholery is an excuse to violate norms, but this is one standard I have no interest in following if republicans don’t.

      So someone who’s not a blatant partisan hack? Sure. Someone from the opposite party? Nope.

      • vic rattlehead

        Actually for some reason I thought he was appointed in 2011. It was 2013. I stand by what I said-Mueller doesn’t stay on, I see Comey getting in before the 2012 election. Same shit. If Bush got to appoint Mueller, I don’t see why we can’t have someone who made their bones in a democratic administration, as long as they’re not blatant hacks.

        • Thrax

          I agree, but from here on out, I suspect hacks is what we’ll get.

      • Joe_JP

        a Republican president appointing a democratic FBI Director.

        I said “some sort of Democratic insider/regular” concerns me, so independence here doesn’t require being a Republican. An independent minded person could work with both types of administrations, so do think the argument holds.

        Relying on what Republicans will do is not really a great policy here.

        • calling all toasters

          I, too, don’t wish to see Sidney Blumenthal become FBI head.

    • These days, there are many political corruption investigations and I think it a good idea for the FBI not to be headed by someone that could be seen as a partisan of the President’s own party.

      To be safe, then, the FBI should be headed by someone who can’t possibly be a partisan of a sitting President’s party. That leaves plenty of choices! Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson…the list goes on and on.

    • Thom

      I nominate Gillian Anderson.

      • M. Krebs

        Seconded.

    • Manny Kant

      I guess I don’t understand why this applies to Democratic presidents, who always appoint Republican FBI directors (e.g. Webster, Freeh, Comey) and not to Republican presidents, who also always appoint Republican FBI directors (e.g. Sessions, Mueller).

      • tsam

        Because the Democratic presidents covering your examples made it a point to dispel any accusation of impropriety. Republicans have never had a single fuck to give about that.

        • tsam

          Cf: Heckuva job, Comey.

      • Joe_JP

        “and not”

        It would, as an ideal, apply to each party.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Important list.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_political_appointments_across_party_lines

        Mostly lower level jobs, but note how often Secretary of Defense appears in red in recent years

        • JohnT

          And also striking just how many Republicans Obama has appointed to big jobs compared to GWB’s limited use of Democrats. The OP is right, this is one area Obama just got wrong.

          • Halloween Jack

            Ray LaHood (Secretary of Transportation) wasn’t too bad, but that’s largely because he was an old-school Republican from when the House GOP was willing to work across party lines, occasionally. His son Darrin is much more in line with the current party, and even though he’s in what should be a safe GOP district, may be in a spot of trouble this election cycle because of his (qualified) support for Trump.

    • altofront

      Don’t want the head of the FBI just to be some sort of Democratic insider/regular akin to some Cabinet head.

      Fun fact: With the exception of James Adams for about a week in 1978 there has never been an FBI Director who was a Democrat, regular or irregular.

      • tsam

        Thinking back, the first 422 years of the FBI was run by one J. Edgar Hoover. What a great history.

    • Shalimar

      It is a great idea for the FBI to be headed by someone non-partisan. It is a horrible idea for the Director of the FBI to ignore decades of precedent and bureau guidelines in a partisan investigation. Comey is not the non-partisan you are looking for, even if he fucked up unintentionally.

  • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

    Comey being a republican certainly has helped to this point to deflate the GOP’s predictable claim that the DoJ’s investigation into Clinton’s emails was a whitewash. Had he been a democrat, almost certainly a special prosecutor would have been appointed, with far less predictable results. I feel this new episode will play itself out within a few days, but maybe I am just an optimist.

    • howard

      since anyone who bothers to look at this for 60 seconds can discern the hackery involved here, the salience, in my estimation, is that it may increase the motivation of flagging gopers to still vote against the hated she-devil, but i don’t think it turns anyone who isn’t already a clinton-hater.

    • Tom Till

      Comey being a republican certainly has helped to this point to deflate the GOP’s predictable claim that the DoJ’s investigation into Clinton’s emails was a whitewash.

      Uh, no. Reagan himself could rise from the dead to proclaim Clinton’s innocence and Chaffetz, who’d change his name to Category V Hurricane to get his mug on TV, would accuse him of being on the take.

      • Murc

        There are more people in the world than Chaffetz, you know.

      • Colin Day

        Chaffetz, who’d change his name to Category V Hurricane

        You object to truth in naming?

    • JMP

      Since it was very, very obvious from day 1 that Clinton did nothing wrong, doing some non-specific thing that is vaguely bad involving emails is not actually a federal crime, and Comey conducted a witch-hunt desperate to find any excuse to indict Clinton yet eventually had to admit there wasn’t any, yet the Republicans still tried to claim there was some sort of whitewash that he didn’t bring her up on charges of Being a Democrat, there would not be any difference.

    • JR in WV

      Pretty sure there is no “special prosecutor” law in effect at this time. After the farce created by Newt and Ken Starr, they allowed that legislation to expire.

      Given that Ken Starr just got fired for attempting to cover up sexual assaults and domestic violence charges at Baylor (a good “Christian” college) his ethics and morals appear to be a negative value. And Newt is a serial adulterer – and professional hypocrite.

      Let’s find a Democrat with federal law enforcement experience and replace these Republican slime molds.

  • Domino

    I think Obama has finally given up on the idea, but for the first several years of his presidency (hell, I’d say at least 6) he was convinced on striking grand bargains and ending partisanship.

    Now it seems he has a clear view that will be impossible, but he seemed hell-bent on trying.

    • petesh

      I certainly hope the HRC will divest herself of any lingering fvcks she may have in her possession before she takes office.

      • The Lorax

        This sort of thing will help.

    • DilbertSucks

      Yes, and I think this was a HUGE strike against Obama, and these poor instincts on his part were responsible for the some of the biggest failures of his first term, namely, his administration’s failure to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, and the overall weakness of Obamacare (particularly the lack of a public option). He was way too committed to a spirit of “bipartisanship” that it was obvious Republicans would not reciprocate, as well as instinctively inclining to the “center” even in situations where the “center” was wrong and the left had the better case.

      • tsam

        Meh. The sentiment is noble enough, and maybe he was naive in thinking leading by example works on man-children the way it works on children, but it’s hard to fault him for trying to do what he said he would do. Now he’s paying them back for all that shit, and there isn’t a fucking thing they can do about it, which is fun. They had their chance to act like grown ups and refused.

        • Warren Terra

          Also, it wasn’t entirely a naive thing. Obama wasn’t banking on the Republicans being reasonable and bipartisan, his fallback (indeed, likely his main) position was that people would see Obama had been the reasonable one and punish the Republicans for their unwillingness to meet him even 1/10 of the way.

          It didn’t really work out that way – partly because the Republican base stood ready to reward intransigence, not punish it, and partly because the scheme relied on accurate, factual reporting of what had happened, when instead the media were perfectly happy to post sound bites from Republicans bemoaning Obama’s unwillingness to deal and in any case the public wasn’t actually paying attention and was more likely to hear about these issues, if at all, from right-wing sources.

          • tsam

            Right–thought I’m not sure any of it comes from naivete, but more a policy of good governance–Obama wouldn’t, as a matter of principle, try to stack all of Washington with his friends or people who are blindly partisan to him personally or the Democratic party. I think (hope?) that his disposition on these issues becomes a cornerstone of his legacy. He never once displayed pettiness or got involved with the intransigence–he just kept rolling along the best he could. While this was infuriating to us lefties, there’s a convincing argument Obama took the right actions with respect to Republican sniveling and tantrum throwing. Also, to my knowledge, his appointees were all qualified to do the job, even if they later became total buttholes like Vilsack and Comey.

            • Mayur

              After earth tones, rallying ’round the flag post-9/11, and GWB’s Glorious Grand Mesopotamian Misadventure, thinking that the media would do anything other than reward the Republicans’ intransigence with both-sides-do-it misrepresentation was genuine political malpractice. I thought that in 2008 (I preferred Obama as a candidate but I HATED the conciliatory rhetoric), and I never thought otherwise.

          • The Lorax

            Exactly. Press talked about “partisanship” rather than GOP obstruction because the most important goal in reporting is not to be thought of as left leaning by talk radio. Because Woodward and Bernstein and Cronkite and Murrow. Never mind all were pilloried for being left wing.

      • djw

        If you actually think the lack of a public option is primarily a result of Obama attempting to appease Republicans, the most charitable interpretation I can imagine is that you slept through 2009.

        namely, his administration’s failure to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis

        Jesus Christ. That was, obviously, never going to happen, no matter who was president.

        • liberalrob

          Actually, no, it was not “obvious” at all… unless you’ve conceded that there is a two-tiered system of justice in this country and it is irretrievably lost. In which case, what the hell difference does anything we do make?

          • Morse Code for J

            Maybe somebody decided that the risk of deepening or lengthening a recession by putting cases with questionable prospects in front of a grand jury would have harmed far more people than it would ever have helped.

            I wish we would have shattered the majors into a few dozen pieces and structured the consumer banking parts as something akin to public utilities. I wish we had a federal employee’s signature on every insurance contract over an amount defined as existential for a provider determined to be key to the market. I can wish for a lot of things, but I’m going to settle for ending the recession as quickly as possible, and eliminating or prohibiting all or most of the transactions that made it happen. Show trials of bankers so that Democrats could jerk off to CSPAN while the economy continued to burn? Much further down the list.

            • Murc

              Most of what you quite reasonably wish for would have required Congressional action. Arresting the delinquents who torpedoed our economy would not have.

              Maybe somebody decided that the risk of deepening or lengthening a recession by putting cases with questionable prospects in front of a grand jury would have harmed far more people than it would ever have helped.

              How, pray, would this have deepened or lengthened the recession?

              Show trials of bankers

              Who is asking for show trials? Point them out to me, please.

              • JR in WV

                In particular, the bond rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, there’s another one I forget the name of, were committing fraud, because if they didn’t the people creating securities from waste paper would have gone to another rating agency.

                Not an excuse for rating scraps and waste AAA+ in my book. Those folks should have gone to jail first, followed by the people who created the tranches of waste and scraps. Individuals, not banks.

        • Murc

          Jesus Christ. That was, obviously, never going to happen, no matter who was president.

          Even if true, this still represents a colossal failure on the part of Obama and his appointees. The fact that other people would also have been cowardly failures doesn’t signify.

          The ACA, they had Congress to contend with. If you don’t have the voted, you don’t have the votes. But the executive branch is under the control of… well, of the executive branch. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don’t get a veto there, neither does Joe Lieberman. It is part of the President’s remit to punish the greatest malefactors among us. Maybe the banksters get acquitted, fine, but this is one area where I’m 100% comfortable saying “he didn’t even try.” Instead he literally invited the foxes into the henhouse and shoveled money into their pockets.

          I mean, for fuck’s sake, you had Alan goddamn Greenspan telling Congress that fraud occurred in Congressional testimony, maybe the first he ever removed his lips from around Wall Street’s dick in order to say something mildly negative about them. Greenspan!

          • The Lorax

            I’ve still to see a convincing case there was widespread illegal activity that could have been prosecuted successfully. And that wouldn’t have affected the stability of a rickety system (this doesn’t apply so much after 2010 or so).

        • Iceland prosecuted, convicted and jailed some of its crooked bankers. The sky did not fall in on Icelandic capitalism and SFIK the economy has recovered quite well.

          • Breadbaker

            Iceland has a different set of laws. As the verdict in Oregon shows, our statutes leave a lot to be desired in terms of defining crimes (and the Constitution is pretty clear you can’t change the rules after the game is played). Watching a whole bunch of well-paid lawyers smile after their multimillionaire clients received not guilty verdicts because juries did not understand the charges or disbelieved evidence of intent would not have been a good result, but you can bet it was the most likely result. These cases are hard to prosecute and not hard to defend, so long as the defense has the resources. And the people you’re talking about had the resources.

            Remember too, Iceland let its banks go under. It is a little different to do that when the global banking system’s response is, “where’s Iceland, again?”. Harder to do in the US. Not saying we mightn’t have taken a different tack eight years ago (certainly letting the bank shareholders continue to hold shares was an untaxed wealth transfer that makes no sense), but we didn’t. And that happened under Bush (though Obama voted for it).

  • Nobdy

    I understand the argument that Democrats should stop hiring Republicans for important jobs (and I agree that they should not be made to seem like the responsible party) but I am ambivalent about whether this is actually a good idea.

    Partisanship is doing a lot of damage to this country right now, and while the Republicans are obviously the party to blame (I am emphatically not making a ‘both sides do it’ argument) SOMEBODY has to reach across the aisle to try and keep lines of communications open and create a situation where Republicans COULD come back to the table. As the actually responsible party this sort of falls to the Democrats by default, the same way that when you have two parents, one of whom is responsible and sane and the other of whom is a bitter raving mess, the responsible parent can’t turn against the raving mess parent because doing so ultimately hurts the kids.

    America needs a functional government and it needs its parties to talk to each other. If this can’t happen in congress (and with the current Republican congress it can’t) then giving a few executive appointments to members of the competent, responsible, rump of the Republican party at least creates some sort of dialog and also gives power and prestige to the less insane side of the party.

    I don’t necessarily think FBI director is a great choice for this kind of outreach, and of course I understand the inherent problems with this kind of asymmetrical outreach, but I don’t see a good outcome from hyperpartisan total political war, and its not like waiting for the Republicans in general to meet you half way is going to get you anywhere.

    • Joe_JP

      There are enough “responsible” jobs to fill nearly all of them with Democrats and find a few credible Republicans to serve this outreach function. The bottom line concern seems to be that “FBI director” etc. shouldn’t be deemed a “Republican job.” That’s fine. But, your concern still holds.

      ETA: Cf. those who basically think there is simply no credible Republicans. I think, especially as some sort of underlining in a Democratic Administration (even a FBI director can be removed), there is a possibility to find a few.

    • calling all toasters

      America needs a functional government and it needs its parties to talk to each other.

      If you want Republicans to speak or negotiate honestly, it helps to have them in the dock.

    • Bruce B.

      No, actually, “partisanship” isn’t doing damage. Republican partisans are. There are no Democratic partisans anything like the average high-ranking Republican now, I think; if they are, they are heavily ostracized by the rest of the Democrats are. It was a very unusual thing for the Democrats to start doing, and we can see that it’s been entirely a failure – it did not get them superior results, and it got them precisely zero respect or consideration from either the Republicans or the mass media.

      It is not some crazy Gingrich-level hostility to want to staff your administration with people of your own party, or at least not of the other. We already know that efforts at cross-party communication haven’t worked, and that the Republicans are determined that they will continue to fail. As things stand, making routine attempts anyway is something that can easily be handled by the staff at the White House and in Congress. They won’t be improved by putting crucial offices in what the Republicans are determined to make be enemy hands.

      • Origami Isopod

        No, actually, “partisanship” isn’t doing damage. Republican partisans are. … It is not some crazy Gingrich-level hostility to want to staff your administration with people of your own party, or at least not of the other.

        Thank you.

        There’s nothing wrong with being partisan per se. I want my elected representatives to fight for my values as best they can within the constraints of real-world politics. Republican obstructionism goes well beyond normal partisanism.

    • DilbertSucks

      Partisanship is doing a lot of damage to this country right now, and while the Republicans are obviously the party to blame (I am emphatically not making a ‘both sides do it’ argument) SOMEBODY has to reach across the aisle to try and keep lines of communications open and create a situation where Republicans COULD come back to the table.

      No. This masochistic attitude on the part of liberals is a large part of the reason we’re in such a fucking mess right now, and it’s always a growing number of people on the left (especially left-leaning Millennials, who’ve only known extreme Republican obstructionism during their lifetimes), are growing so goddamn fed up with centrists/center-left attitudes.

      Liberals have been attempting this for the last three decades, and perhaps even longer. The situation has often been similar outside of America too. Liberals try to act like adults while the right-wing doesn’t play ball and intentionally tries to sabotage the system. Being magnanimous towards right-wingers does not work. It might make you feel good, but it does not work. Get that through your head. It does not fucking work. It just allows the right-wing to continue abusing the system and set the agenda even more because liberals are so dedicated to giving them a seat at the table, treating their ideas with respect no matter how stupid or destructive, etc.

      And the right-wingers will never ever give you credit for being fair or bipartisan either. Craven liberal weenies like Ezra Klein will bend over backwards to be “fair” to the other side and right-wingers will still scorn him and Vox as a “biased left-wing rag.” Bill Clinton was as centrist and compromising as you could get, and they still smeared him as a dangerous radical. Same deal for Obama, really. It does not fucking matter how respectful or “fair” you are to them.

      It’s time liberals stopped behaving like doormats and started to fight back. They need to be more ruthless. Not more “fair,” but more ruthless. They need to start using their leverage to grind the right-wing into the dust and force their agenda through. And IF, IF, IF (this is a mighty big IF) after this happens, the right-wing finally decides to grow up and behave like adults, THEN we can bring them back to the table and reevaluate the merits of bipartisanship.

      But this is onus on THEM, not liberals, on THEM, to show signs of cooperation. Get it? Liberals have been doing this for decades with no payoff. The onus is no longer on liberals. It’s on the right-wingers. And if they don’t want to cooperate, then liberals should and must continue grinding the right-wing under their boot. THAT’S how you conduct a war, both physical wars and wars of ideologies/ideas. You make the other side submit to your will. You don’t constantly bend over to appease the enemy when they have a long history of abusing your good faith. This is almost like a political equivalent of battered wife syndrome.

      • Tyro

        They need to be more ruthless. Not more “fair,” but more ruthless.

        Here is the problem: people who are temperamentally inclined to be “open minded” and “fair” will be drawn to the Democratic party. People inclined to appreciate ruthlessness and uncompromising adherence to their beliefs will be drawn to the Republican party.

        A Democrat who became known as ruthless would lose to the compromiser in the primaries.

        • Origami Isopod

          This isn’t a problem with progressives in general. It’s a problem with nice middle-class liberals, most of them white, with the mentality that everything can be resolved by talking out our differences and that hardball tactics are — term chosen quite deliberately here — déclassé.

          LBJ, for one, sure as hell didn’t care about being “open-minded and fair.”

          • BiloSagdiyev

            I’m farily convinced a lot of blue collar white males (and Southerners) look at liberals with disgust because they don’t have any fight in them. John Kerry taking the high road and not firing back on the Swiftboat horseshit for weeks is one oft-cited example of this.

            Not saying we should bring back dueling, but bland technocratic nebbishes may not be enough. I’m thinking of 1976 to 2006, here. I’m not sure if Obama falls in that category. I think he’s just low-key, but I’m sure others …

            Well, that gets me to the foreign policy issue. I think Obama has a done many a small thing overseas that shed blood, no more or less than W. was doing in the last years of his administration, but because Obama doesn’t do tough talk and angry chest-beating and other things that make Toby Keith tumescent, because it’s just low key and the Hellfire missiles keep landing in various countries few Americans are aware they’re landing in, and you’d really have to follow the news to know where … WIMP!!!!

            Which gets me back to Ronald Reagan and what I call the wiffle bat wars – the American right doesn’t necessarily want long drawn out large wars. They lost interest in Iraq from 2006 and onwards, too. What they like are quick easy victories against easy targets. Entertainment and showbiz. Chest beating and bellowing about Murkafuckyeah.

            I stop babbling now.

        • scott_theotherone

          This exactly. The very definition of liberal is “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values,” whereas, as we all know, a conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop. Liberals are, in theory, at least—and I think that theory, no matter how far from practice, still has a large impact—is interested in listening to various veiwpoints and choosing the one that’s best for the largest number of people, whereas the point of today’s conservatives is, as we all know, fuck you, jack, I’ve got mine.

          • Origami Isopod

            There’s such a thing as being so “open to new ideas” that your brains fall right out of your head. Skepticism of heavily pushed narratives is also a liberal concept.

          • Davis X. Machina

            …whereas the point of today’s conservatives is, as we all know, fuck you, jack, I’ve got mine.

            Is simples. Replace them with good, progressive people willing to say “Fuck you, jack, you’ve got mine, and I’m taking it.” This should solve most of our problems.

        • Phil Perspective

          A Democrat who became known as ruthless would lose to the compromiser in the primaries.

          Proof? This assumes facts not in evidence. Where is the ruthless Democrats who has been defeated in a primary? How often are Democrats given that choice? Rarely, if ever.

        • Morse Code for J

          I voted for Hillary Clinton this year and eight years ago precisely because I wanted somebody with no illusions about how this all works.

      • Origami Isopod

        Being magnanimous towards right-wingers does not work. It might make you feel good, but it does not work.

        As I said to Tyro, this is very much a class-based mentality. The more affluent liberals became over the last several decades, the more distaste they acquired for such things as raising one’s voice or stating things bluntly. And, with the decline in communalism and the rise of a consumer approach to politics, they seem to feel that politics should be, for want of a better phrase right now, “good for the soul.”

        • tsam

          Tends to be a white male phenomenon, at least based on my observations. We (white males) aren’t the target of Repig fuckery. So too many of us are quick to rationalize it away. The most egregious example is the completely fucking insane idea that liberals should listen to Trump supporters, or impute a classist argument to their outright racism. The net result is letting those fucks off the hook for their shitty behavior. It’s not like they just say racist things, they actively oppress people. Disunity in condemnation of that behavior is a weakness that right wingers exploit.

          • Nobdy

            There’s a difference between rationalizing away the evil behavior of republicans and realizing that as long as they have power we have to work with them.

            It’s also a little odd to attribute this just to white males when Obama did it and that kind of listening is an infamous attribute of Hillary Clinton.

            All war all the time is not necessarily the best strategy to get the sort of agenda the progressives have done.

            That paradigm naturally favors the destructive Republican agenda (which can do all the damage necessary during brief windows of power, while actual institution building takes much longer.)

          • Origami Isopod

            I think white male liberals tend to be less aware of the threat posed by the GOP to others than those others are themselves. But there are plenty of white liberal women who look at politics as a quasi-spiritual exercise.

            • tsam

              Less aware or dismissive?

              • Origami Isopod

                Both.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I am very interested in this line of talk. Website? Newsletter? Rebel camp in the mountains?

      • Nobdy

        Liberals don’t have sufficient power to “grind Republicans under their boot.” Republicans will maintain the house, and they have lots of state governments too (which still matter) and may maintain the senate.

        When you have to share power with another group and you care about the wellbeing of the country, total war is not a constructive paradigm.

        The Republicans do not appear to be on the road to offering any signs of cooperation. The Democrats cannot respond by being equally petulant and saying “well they started it.”

        Two ruthless sides clashing is how you end up with civil wars or permanently dysfunctional government (which we may get anyway thanks to the Republicans.)

        Now of course Democrats need to be better about picking their spots and not damaging the lives or well-being of their constituents and party base, and I wouldn’t recommend compromising in such a way that compromises the people they’re trying to help, but I do think the reaching out has benefits.

        For one thing it has enabled the Democrats to keep the country running with the “reasonable rump” of the Republican party, which is beneficial to the people the Democrats represent. For another, the Republicans suffer drops in the polls every time they pull bullshit like shutting the government down or refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Despite our horrible media the public has at least some idea of who the unreasonable party is, and over time this is damaging the Republican brand while benefiting the democrats.

        I think the benefits to the Democrats are actually greater than whatever minor benefit the Republicans gain from some of their members seeming to be “reasonable.” Especially since those “reasonable” Republicans do tend to use their respectability to condemn the worst aspects and aspects of the Republican party (like all the old guard Republicans who have turned against Trump and condemned him.)

        • Mayur

          You don’t need to “grind Republicans under [your] boot.” Republicans are doing a fine job marginalizing themselves, thank you very much. It is, IMHO, stupid to try to help them appear more reasonable by manufacturing the semblance of political consensus where none exists.

          At this point, only the second coming of Josef Stalin could create a vaguely equivalent left-right partisan divide. The center is CROWDED with Democrats. Here’s the simple thought experiment I gave my father recently. Susan Collins is absolutely the most “reasonable” Republican in national political office at this point. On how many issues do you agree with Susan Collins? Then, on how many salient issues that are actively being debated and have a real impact on the next 10-20 years worth of legislation and executive action do you agree with Susan Collins?

          I probably make it to about 1 out of 10 bills. Maybe.

      • UserGoogol

        Many of the fundamental ideological disputes of our era are whether “fighting back” is a good thing or a bad thing. Should criminals be punished, or rehabilitated? Should people be allowed to engage in violent self-defense, or should they turn the other cheek? Should bad things happen to bad people, or should good things happen to bad people? I mean hell, so much of conservative foreign policy has been based on the idea that appeasement is bad, we should not replicate that mistake.

        • Chetsky

          No. sorry, these are white-collar criminals (and Rethug miscreants, but I repeat myself). The only way to deter white-collar crime is to make the penalty as bad as for a black man to (have been suspected of) steal(ing) a candy bar.

          Only way those fuckers will get it and behave.

      • Murc

        They need to be more ruthless. Not more “fair,” but more ruthless.

        … no. This is bullshit. What separates us from the Republicans is that we are, in fact, the party of fairness, pity, and compassion for others. We will not win by abandoning our basic morals.

        There’s a difference between “ruthless” and “tough.” We definitely need to get tougher, but in accordance with our ideals, not in spite of them.

        • JR in WV

          Murc says

          we are, in fact, the party of fairness, pity, and compassion for others.

          and this is somewhat true. But in all fairness, pity and compassion for someone who repeatedly holds you down and rapes you is crazy. That is what the Republicans are doing to most of the nation’s populace.

          We need to convict those Republicans of the rape they continue to commit against women, people of color, college students, everyone, really, but the military-industrial complex and their fellow Republicans.

          I’m done with trying to be bi-partisan with Republicans who continue to steal from people, make people drink water with lead in it to make a nickel, etc.

    • djw

      Partisanship is doing a lot of damage to this country right now

      This is a terrible framing. Democratic partisanship is why millions and millions of the formerly uninsured now have health insurance. Republican partisanship is terrible, but emphasis should be placed on the first word.

      • Nobdy

        The ACA wasn’t partisan, it was good public policy. And it was designed in such a way to benefit the entire country, not disproportionately aimed at helping Democratic supporters (which was a good thing.) Unless you’re talking about Democratic enforcement of party loyalty in arm twisting, but that’s not really what is generally meant by “partisanship.”

        I also clearly stated that the Republicans were to blame for the situation. But Democrats should not copy their reprehensible tactics. For example if the Democrats hold the senate when the next Republican president takes office they should not try to hold the country hostage through refusing to raise the debt ceiling or refuse to staff the supreme court or anything like that (which is not to say that they should agree to pass substantively bad bills or confirm actually bad nominees.)

        They haven’t done such things in the past, but they also shouldn’t start.

        • Murc

          The ACA wasn’t partisan, it was good public policy.

          It was both.

          • Kerans

            Yep, good and public.

            • Mayur

              It *is* “partisan” when only one party believes in good public policy.

            • Kerans

              Wait Murc, that sounded really snarky, sorry. I should have asked for your reason why it was partisan instead. I’m probably missing the obvious.

              • (((Malaclypse)))

                Not to speak for Murc, but we are in an era when one side no longer believes in good public policy.

              • Murc

                The ACA was passed without any Republican votes at all, reflects purely Democratic priorities and attacks, directly, Republican ones. As a piece of legislation and of politics it is relentlessly partisan.

        • Murc

          For example if the Democrats hold the senate when the next Republican president takes office they should not try to hold the country hostage through refusing to raise the debt ceiling or refuse to staff the supreme court or anything like that

          The debt ceiling, yes.

          The Supreme Court I’m less sure about. We’re supposed to adopt the position that has the best outcomes, right? Well, given the choice between whatever whacknoodle a hypothetical President Cruz nominated and a court that’s down a member, I choose the latter. 100%. The damage done the fabric of the country will be less.

          That said, in this situation the Democratic Senate would probably be willing to compromise. The last time we did that it worked out the way political compromise is supposed to work. Reagan didn’t get Bork; he was unacceptable to a Democratic Senate. But he did get Kennedy. And that worked out okay for both sides. Not amazingly, but okay. Kennedy has hurt our interests in some ways, and defended them in others. Without Kennedy there’s no Obergefell. Without Kennedy Roe would have been overturned a long, long time ago.

          • Nobdy

            I am not sure I agree that both parties adopting the position that the supreme court only gets new members when one party controls both the presidency and the senate would not cause more damage to the fabric of the country than another conservative justice, though that depends on the fabric of the court at any given time.

            But regardless, I wasn’t talking about consenting to a Robert Bork type, nor even another Scalia. I was thinking of the Republican equivalent of Merrick Garland. Kennedy is also a fine example. My point is that Democrats should remain open to compromise and promote reasonable governance wherever possible, even when there is, indeed, asymmetry.

        • Colin Day

          The ACA wasn’t partisan

          How many Republicans (House and Senate) voted for it?

    • Murc

      SOMEBODY has to reach across the aisle to try and keep lines of communications open and create a situation where Republicans COULD come back to the table.

      Are… are the Democrats not doing this? Did we stop at some point?

      If the Republicans want to come back to the table and, instead of flipping it, sit down and have a reasonable conversation, we’re not stopping them. Indeed, many, including myself, would welcome that development.

      We’ve left the door open. It’s on them to walk through it.

      then giving a few executive appointments to members of the competent, responsible, rump of the Republican party at least creates some sort of dialog and also gives power and prestige to the less insane side of the party.

      I’m open to this if you can find some of these competent, responsible Republicans. I have no particular problem with there being a few Assistant and Deputy and Undersecretary’s with an “R” next to their names. There’s no reason a Republican can’t be, say, a nationally renowned expert in traffic management and development and serve somewhere in the DoT.

      They gotta be willing to disavow the crazies and not enable them, tho. That list is gonna be… short.

      • Nobdy

        I think the Democrats have been very willing to compromise so far. In fact they have gone overboard with it. But this thread is full of people advocating a ‘total war’ partisan approach and I think that’s wrong. I’m not saying the Democrats need to tack further to the center. In fact I think they do need to go further left, and be ‘tougher.’ But they shouldn’t go ALL the way, and part of that includes considering appointing decent token Republicans when they can be found and where they won’t do damage. Bernanke is an example of someone who did a reasonably good job. I am sure there are others out there.

        I see my country being torn apart and I don’t want my party to accelerate that. Am I willing to compromise the interests of vulnerable people in order to prevent it? Of course not. But that’s never been what I’ve been saying. You have to pick your spots, and Obama didn’t do that sufficiently (especially at the beginning of his administration.) But that doesn’t mean the impulse to reach out and be inclusive was entirely wrong.

        • I think the Democrats have been very willing to compromise so far. In fact they have gone overboard with it. But this thread is full of people advocating a ‘total war’ partisan approach and I think that’s wrong. I’m not saying the Democrats need to tack further to the center. In fact I think they do need to go further left, and be ‘tougher.’ But they shouldn’t go ALL the way, and part of that includes considering appointing decent token Republicans when they can be found and where they won’t do damage. Bernanke is an example of someone who did a reasonably good job. I am sure there are others out there.

          But…why?

          I mean, why appoint even token Republicans? How does that advance…anything? It’s not like it is reciprocated nor does it seem to have any benefits. If the Republicans become better, then we can talk. But I’m not sure why doing this before they become better is necessary.

          Bernanke wasn’t in a token position! He could have done great harm. He didn’t which is good, but I don’t see why it was actually good to appoint him if that has absolutely no chance of being reciprocated.

          • Nobdy

            Some reasons:

            1) They might just be a good pick for a given job, like Bernanke was. Then the benefit is that you hire a very competent candidate.

            2) You amplify the reasonable voices in the Republican party. You give them power and attention and that allows them to push back against the looney tunies more effectively.

            3) It can create strong backchannels for dealmaking. Siloed parties don’t talk. Republican appointees know people within the Republican apparatus and can help communicate. Despite all the intransigence of the Republicans over the last 8 years deals have gotten made. The lights have stayed on, some confirmations have gone through, things haven’t totally ground to a halt. Part of this is because the Democrats HAVE stayed willing to talk to and in touch with the “reasonable rump.”

            4) It acts as outreach and shows you are not as partisan as your opponents. This does count for something. There’s a reason Obama’s approval rating has hovered around 50 and congress is less popular than a burst sewer pipe. It’s not just because he’s objectively better but also because people see Republican intransigence and are angry about it. They also see that Obama is willing to keep his door open. These things count. Maybe it’s somewhat marginal, but so is the cost of appointing a Republican to certain positions.

            I’m not even saying that Democrats HAVE to appoint Republicans, but they should be open to the idea in the right situation. And regardless of THAT, I do not think they should go down the road of all out partisan war.

            • Kerans

              They are willing to obliterate all existing norms. Impeachment. Bush v Gore. Garland. The Comey letter. Shutdown. Another half-dozen or so more. But Democrats should consider employing them so that a hypothetical reasonable Republican (unicorn) could facilitate a deal with a group of hypothetical reasonable Republicans (?) who don’t know the phone number of any Democrats?

              I know you’re right about deals being made. But at some point, after all the betrayals, “good grief” doesn’t cut it.

            • 1) They might just be a good pick for a given job, like Bernanke was. Then the benefit is that you hire a very competent candidate.

              There are always multiple good candidates and there are always plenty of good candidates who are democrats.

              This isn’t an affirmative reason to seek out Republicans (e.g., as a quota).

              2) You amplify the reasonable voices in the Republican party.

              Certainly not *inside* the Republican party. What this amplifies is the voice of the *Republican party*, not of *reasonable voices inside* the party. And the republican party is bad.

              3) It can create strong backchannels for dealmaking.

              Hahahhah. C’mon. The republican approach is no dealmaking, period.

              4) It acts as outreach and shows you are not as partisan as your opponents. This does count for something. There’s a reason Obama’s approval rating has hovered around 50 and congress is less popular than a burst sewer pipe.

              First, this has worked not at all, at least in any general way. Second, the republicans don’t seem to be suffering per se for being hyperpartisen. Third, Obama’s Republican outreach has zero effect on his approval rating (to a first approximation). I mean, c’mon. Bill Clinton had awesome approval rating when he left (in the 60s!) and it’s not like he had a rep for working well with the congress that freaking impeached him.

              I’m not even saying that Democrats HAVE to appoint Republicans, but they should be open to the idea in the right situation.

              You need to identify what the right situation is. At this point, it’s *very* unclear that there are any. The costs of appointing republicans are pretty high esp since the “good ones” are pretty damn rare.

              • Nobdy

                I think you actually do amplify the reasonable voices of the Republican party within it by working with or appointing them. Maybe not in speaking to the crazy “Freedumb caucus” but in speaking as a voice within the party and speaking to the more moderate Republican voters (of whom there are millions even if they are a minority.)

                We’ve seen the benefits of having reasonable repubs in the Never Trump movement and in the fact taht the party leadership hasn’t actually let the FD caucus shut down the government even when that has meant passing legislation with the Democrats.

                You say the Republican approach is no dealmaking ever, but some deals have been made. They have been relatively few, but they are important.

                Republican partisan attacks on Bill Clinton are part of what MADE him popular late in his presidency. They looked unreasonable and the public supported him in response.

                I don’t have a specific example of an appointment in mind. I am only arguing that it shouldn’t be taken off the table.

                • efgoldman

                  I think you actually do amplify the reasonable voices of the Republican party within it by working with or appointing them.

                  Name one who is currently in elected office, especially in congress, or in a position of genuine power to establish a dialogue.
                  OK, Charly Baker, governor of MA – who is busy trying to break the T unions, and who has less than zero influence in DC.
                  A fucking “reasonable” Republiklown is one who holds no office and never will again.
                  You are delusional.

    • efgoldman

      SOMEBODY has to reach across the aisle to try and keep lines of communications open and create a situation where Republicans COULD come back to the table.

      I’d have thought by now that nobody who observes politics and government closely, which you do, could be so fucking naive.
      They want scorched earth? Give ’em scorched earth.
      Fuckem

  • Murc

    I do hope that, at least, Hillary Clinton takes this as a long overdue hint that Democratic presidents should stop putting Republicans in important administration jobs.

    See also: Robert Gates.

    I was and still am furious that Obama had him stay on. The man ran Bush’s wars for two years! That makes him war criminal adjacent, if not an accessory after the fact.

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Chuck Hagel, too.

  • raypc800

    ” because for either Obama or Clinton to fire him would make it look like he was actually onto something, like a Saturday Night Massacre II.”

    Actually it has come to light that this information has been in investigators hands for over 30 days and now Comey decides to release it. He should quietly resign, but being a GOP member he will not. One thing is for sure his reputation is now lower then Trumps. Thus you are correct in one matter Comey has affirmed his GOP credentials.

    • heckblazer

      One rumor I’ve seen on is that Comey may have acted to head off leaks coming out of the NYC field office, which also according to rumor is feeling very vindictive about the Garner case being taken out of their hands.

  • petesh

    Here is an amusing article calling for Congress to impeach Comey — for recommending no charges against HRC in July.

  • Casey

    I predict he’s going to be hosting a show with Stacey Dash in 6 months called “Rollin’ With the Comeys”.

    • calling all toasters

      All the best shows are on TrumpTV.

  • smott999

    Do we have any experts on the Hatch Act?
    And how close has Comey come to violating it?

  • AMK

    If I’m not mistaken, the FBI is the agency that’s supposed to take the lead on counterintelligence, counterespionage and the like as well as political corruption. So in a year when the Russians are paying American political operatives and hacking candidates, federal officials and staff to influence the elections (and the Likudniks are trying to buy them, though that’s hardly new) the FBI Director decides that the most pressing concern is this email bullshit from years ago. That’s the problem.

    • sapient

      This.

  • afdiplomat

    I entirely agree with the criticisms of Josh Marshall’s take on the Comey issue. It doesn’t really matter what the motivation for Comey’s unacceptable behavior might be, especially since that’s unknowable in any case. What matters is that he clearly believes that as FBI director he is privileged to act not merely contrary to understandings about the behavior of DoJ staff that have been in place for decades, but even without informing those above him in the structure. The President and the AG thus can have no confidence in him; and as a matter of protection for themselves and the Administration, they will have to assume that any authority given him will be abused.

    This is not a sustainable situation administratively. If Comey remains in his job, he will necessarily be frozen out of anything from which the White House and the AG can exclude him (apart from the real personal animosity that his conduct will create). Everyone involved will be very careful to do nothing that will make the front pages; they will just make sure that Comey is on permanent “time-out.” Of course, this will have serious ramifications for the FBI; having your agency head in such a situation is seriously damaging. The Clinton Administration might partly get around this by putting in a deputy who will function as the de facto FBI director, but of course that would be awkward for all concerned. If Comey cares at all about the agency he heads, he will resign as soon after the election as possible; and if he has any remaining loyalty to the President who appointed him, he will make clear he wasn’t pushed.

    • addicted44

      We’re talking about a Republican here.

      Expecting any decency out of him is being far too optimistic.

    • The President and the AG thus can have no confidence in him

      And Comey has no confidence in his own Bureau. He believes that the culture is so corrupt that confidential information will inevitably be leaked; but rather than clearing that up, he prefers to leak the information preemptively, for reputation preservation.

  • cw moss

    ratio of malevolence-to-incompetence

    That’s easy. It always approximates 1.0.

  • Karen24

    So, opinions on whether this will have an effect on the election? Scott said maybe on the margins last night. Has anyone changed their opinions today?

    • calling all toasters

      Not much, unless the Times really gets its anti-Clinton freak on for a full week. I wouldn’t put it past them, but I’m sure they’re hearing it from their subscribers right now.

      • vic rattlehead

        I’m not the least bit concerned about poll movement. What I am concerned about is perhaps this encouraging the trumpenproletariat and maybe nudging people who were thinking of staying home to instead go intimidate people at the polls. But I think that anyone who is enough of a prick to do that will do it anyway.

        Really, what’s changed? If you’re voting Clinton, you’ve been beaten over the head with anti-Clinton shrieking for up to a quarter century and you’re still voting for her. I have to think that most people have Benghazi/emailgate fatigue at this point. And I would think that the length of American elections mean that opinions are pretty much crystallized by now (for those who are not undecided). Republicans have already fucked this chicken raw.

      • Scott Lemieux

        And the Times is not falling for this one, at least so far — their lead story is basically DOJ and former FBU officials calling Comey a massive hack who egregiously violated longstanding procedures. He really seems to have overreached.

    • vic rattlehead

      1. Turn off the computer
      2. Breathe into a brown paper bag

      • lizzie

        3. Powerful drugs

    • The Dark God of Time

      I’m thinking that there isn’t much left on the margins. The Trumpesfas might be a little more encouraged as is their God-Emperor, but the possibility of discouraging Hillary supporters not to vote for her is slim to none. Fortunately, Comey’s inept follow-up has done more to make it a nothing burger far better that Hillary could’ve with her response to his letter.

    • tsam

      So, opinions on whether this will have an effect on the election?

      I wouldn’t bet on it, Karen. We’ll be ok.

    • efgoldman

      opinions on whether this will have an effect on the election?

      Did you see the question I asked you last nite after my mini-rant?
      When opposing counsel or a judge tries to slap you down, do you turtle and cower, or do you fight for your client?

      • Karen24

        Fight. I did make sure that the nice ladies who did my nails tonight were registered to vote and were voting HRC.

  • synykyl

    If it’s true that the FBI had this info for 30 days, Comey’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than an attempt to influence the election, and he should be fired immediately.

    • scott_theotherone

      Fired, yes. To do so now, however, would likely have an impact on the election. No, as others have said, he should be fired the day after the election, if he doesn’t give his resignation, and it should be clear that it was done because he had broken department policies, not just giving him spending time with the family cover.

      • synykyl

        If the administration can make a case that Comey acted in bad faith, they can, and probably should, fire him now.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Count me in the “day after the election” camp. Now would just prolong the email frenzy.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Exactly. And some important decisions should simply wait until elections are over — even if Comey decided to ignore that, Obama should not.

    • synykyl

      The Obama administration would have to go all in on this though. They could not just fire Comey for using poor judgement, they would have to explicitly accuse him of acting in bad faith. Firing Comey would be very controversial, but *assuming the facts justify it*, they should fire him anyway. There is already plenty of controversy and if the administration goes on the attack the story will then be about Comey, instead of being about Hillary.

  • afdiplomat

    There are two other considerations as well:

    — If, as some reports suggest, Comey issued his latest statement because his New York office was disgruntled about the Eric Garner investigation issue and likely to leak the information in retaliation, that situation suggests he is not in control of his agency and is unable to enforce the decisions of his boss. Administrations are entitled to expect that those they put officially in charge of agencies actually will be; it’s not the AG’s job to police the FBI’s field offices. This is another count in the Comey indictment.
    — There is a precedential issue. Administrations need to have a level of internal discipline to function effectively; they can’t operate in a constant state of wondering which Presidential appointee will next “go rogue.” Comey clearly does not recognize this point; his departure would reinforce it. There would be value-added throughout a future Clinton administration — rather like the case of the British admiral shot for cowardice on his own quarterdeck “to encourage the others.”

  • BiloSagdiyev

    But surely such efforts to appear bipartisan and nonpartisan and good-governmentt will accrue and plaudits for the Democratic party will be received for not being all icky-political, from the other side of the aisle, right?

    Oh, and, I thought this lesson should have learned with Linda Tripp.

  • Can This Please the End of Republican Daddies in Democratic Administrations?

    Can someone PLEASE FIX THE TITLE?

    • What, you don’t think Republican Daddies in Democratic Administrations deserve to have their ends pleased? It might do them all a world of good!

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