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As the passage of time gnaws away at memories of Peter Strzok’s testimony before Congress and America’s outrage industry ratchets its screech-o-meter up a notch or two, perhaps a few observations about the FBI’s noteworthy apparatchik are in order.
Certainly, there is no shortage of opinions about what took place, especially in the form of numbered “takeaways” from the hearing. Thus, Molly Hemingway observed how the Department of Justice succeeded in obstructing congressional oversight, why Strzok came off “even worse than he did in his texts,” and how the Democrats sided with him, in an embarrassingly raucous manner. Indeed, one mentally challenged mouthpiece from the Democrats’ kindergarten kaucus volunteered to award Strzok a purple heart, authority permitting, of course.
Fred Lucas implied that the inestimable Strzok could have given Vladimir Putin lessons in casuistry about what “he really meant” when, for instance, he said, “No. No, he’s not. We’ll stop it.” (Trump becoming president, that is.) This apparently is the highest form of patriotism: “…the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy,” he opined. Further, Strzok “truly believe[s] that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemy’s campaign to tear America apart.” Nothing like wrapping the flag around your arrogance, especially when threatened with a Contempt of Congress charge, which Strzok likely would regard as a badge of honor.
Not that he needs it. In fact, as pointed out by Chris Swecker, a 24-year veteran of the FBI and former chief of bureau criminal investigations, Republicans stumbled right into his trap. “Does he really think,” Swecker asked, “we are so gullible that we would buy his absurd claim that his ‘we’ll stop it’ text meant all of us—the American people—would act to stop Trump from becoming president?” The answer to this question is, yes, of course, he believes that. And so do many other denizens of the swamp. Let us hope the number of Chris Sweckers is vastly greater than the number of embedded Strzoks, but it still is worth poking a stick into the bog to see what might come up.
Fortunately, we are assisted in this process by one of the most insightful treatments of politics created in the history of Western Civilization. Naturally, a book like The Prince comes to mind; Machiavelli’s acerbic work has never lost its capacity to shock. The more sober Federalist Papers also may be consulted. But while Mack-the-Knife’s pages eviscerate naïve sentiments about political motives and The Federalist’s words exude constitutional wisdom, neither approaches the most delightfully comprehensible treatment of politics ever created, and it is barely a generation old: the British political sitcom, “Yes, Prime Minister” (and before that, “Yes, Minister”).
Nearly every episode reveals swampish shenanigans in a fashion that at first ignites laughter, but on reflection generates alarm and genuine fear. Probably the best scene was published by Powerline Blog, concerning a pair of senior civil servants discussing prospects for the next prime minister. Both are Cabinet Secretaries — Sir Humphrey is the current holder of the position and Sir Arnold is his predecessor. The two are enjoying lunch when Sir Humphrey offers an innocent inquiry about one of Arnold’s projects:
Humphrey: “How are things at the campaign for freedom of information, by the way?”
Arnold: “Sorry, I can’t talk about that.”
Humphrey asks a question about who should be the next Prime Minister, to which Arnold replies: “Difficult. Like asking which lunatic should be running the asylum.” Humphrey laments that their alternatives are “interventionists,” because “they both have foolish notions about running the country themselves.” Arnold says: “So, we’re looking for a compromise candidate.”
Humphrey agrees and the two exchange comments about the best qualities of an elected leader, which include: “malleable, flexible, likeable, no firm opinions, no bright ideas, no strong commitments, without the strength of purpose to change anything,” as well as “one who could be manipulated — professionally guided,” so he could “leave the business of government in the hands of the experts.”
This is the best description of Strzokism one ever is likely to find in a democracy, and it was on full display during Strzok’s smirk-punctuated testimony before Congress, complete with a chorus of minions acting like cheerleaders representing the Party of Government. Once the rhetorical fireworks subsided and Republican questioners skulked away reeking with the humiliation of impotence and defeat, one is left with a distillation of his mindset: arrogance, invulnerability, unaccountability, condescension, and above all, contempt for citizens who elected representatives having the unmitigated gall to question their judgments.
Strzokism is the fruit of Progressivism, an agenda-driven movement to degrade democracy to the point of extinction, leaving a shell of appearance for elected buffoons to parade across the political landscape while the real decisions of government are made by others and are mostly beyond their control. All a good Strzokist requires is the regular passage of omnibus spending measures by elected nonentities whose aspirations should be confined to political thespianism.
What can ordinary citizens do about this state of affairs? Prospects are not encouraging. Perhaps the most that any of us can really expect from our elected leaders is for them occasionally to act on our behalf as defense attorneys before a government — perish the thought — dominated by Strzokists.
Those who expect more should be reminded of Sir Arnold’s answer to Sir Humphrey’s question about the campaign for freedom of information: “Sorry, I can’t talk about that.”