Then there’s the story about the old fellow who was acquitted for the murder of his wife. Asked by the judge if he had anything to say, the man looked thoughtfully at the floor, scuffed his foot at an invisible object before looking up at the judge with one eyebrow cocked high and said, “Welp, I never would’ve shot her if I’d known I would have to go through this much red tape.” Whatever that comment did for his cause, you have to admit that the candor was refreshing.
Did you know that what is arguably the world’s grandest and most lavishly appointed Kabuki Theater is the Kabuki-za, in Tokyo? No worries, I didn’t know it either until I looked it up just now. The theater dates back to 1899 — at least the original Kabuki-za dates back that far. It’s been destroyed four times since then; once by fire, once by earthquake, once by war, and yet another time when someone tried to build a skyscraper on top of the thing. But the theater continues it’s wondrously gaudy and elaborate performances with stories and themes that stretch the imagination and contort reality.
“Without warning, a character can rise onto the stage through a trapdoor, or fly into the air on a harness,” according to Kabuki-za’s website, which adds that, “Characters may suddenly reveal their true nature by pulling off their costume Scooby Doo fashion to reveal a new one underneath, and they can do this so smoothly and swiftly that it can seem like a magical transformation.” Which causes one to wonder if American politicians are plagiarizing the Kabuki-za, or is it the other way around? One minute candidate X is pledging fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law, the next minute his costume slips off and he’s re-writing the Constitution on the fly while praising states and cities that flout the rule of law.
Either way, while listening to CIA Director Mike Pompeo deflect the platitudinous idiocy of politicians auditioning for Mount Rushmore, I couldn’t help but wish that the director would look them squarely in the eye and announce, “Welp, I never would have gone back into government work after a career of military service if I’d known I would have to go through this much stupidity.”
But go through it he did, which means that he’s either got a masochistic streak the size of James Comey’s ego, or he believes fervently in a cause which, if articulated straightforwardly, would crash against the rocks alongside the good ship Robert Bork. So we are again treated to the spectacle of a nominee for high office showing just enough intellectual leg to reassure conservatives that he understands the task ahead while regurgitating just enough rhetorical pablum to defang the utopians.
It becomes quite tedious over time, and one wishes one could take over the microphone and address the Senators as the people’s employees rather than their overlords:
SEN CORY BOOKER (D) Planet Utopia: I’m wondering, Sir — do you know Frank Gaffney?
POMPEO: Yes, I do.
BOOKER: And you’ve been on his show dozens of times?
POMPEO: I was on his show some, yes.
BOOKER: I have here over 20 times. And he has talked about [how] Muslims who abide by the adherence of the faith should be considered to be tried for acts of sedition and prosecuted. I have a lot of his statements. Did you remain silent — and, from my notes at least, you’re a friend of his — were you silent in your position of authority in these words that devalue the American constitution?
ME: Director Pompeo, with your permission please; Senator Malarky, it depends on what “adherence of the faith” you’re talking about. If you’re talking about praying toward Mecca, performing the requisite ablutions, or wearing traditional garb, obviously there is no problem. But if the traditional attire includes a bomb vest, or if we’re talking about Sharia law, forced female gentile mutilation, honor killings and wife beating, flying airplanes into buildings, shooting up a gay nightclub in Orlando, or mass murder in San Bernadino, that is precisely the sort of sedition that really devalues the American constitution. Further, your refusal to discern seditious action from benign “adherence of the faith,” devalues your credibility.
BOOKER: If that’s your response, you did not say anything to call out his remarks. What about Brigitte Gabriel. Do you know her?
POMPEO: I do.
BOOKER: Someone who runs an organization that has been considered a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Were you silent? Did you ever call her out on her remarks that are hateful or bigoted?
ME: Excuse me again, Mike; Senator, as a child, Ms. Gabriel remained for 7 years in an 8 X 10 bomb shelter, at times living on weeds and ditch water so as to avoid snipers from the Religion of Peace. All this after Islamic radicals rocketed her family’s home in Lebanon. Later emigrating to Israel, she is now an American citizen who has experienced first-hand the deadly savagery of radical Islamic adherents. A survivor of terrorist attacks, she now lectures and works tirelessly to prevent further murder and mayhem. The fact that her organization has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center is one hell of a bit of comedy given that the SPLC has also labeled the genteel and gentle Dr. Ben Carson an “extremist.” To say that her remarks are hateful or bigoted is on the order of saying that the local fire department is a gang of arsonists. On the other hand, your continued inability to distinguish between those who slaughter the innocent and those who protect the innocent makes you a consummate ass though, I suppose, very popular with your constituency.
BOOKER: But, yes or no, did you ever call her out?
POMPEO: Senator, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t recall each statement I’ve made over 54 years.
BOOKER: Okay, well, I believe this special obligation that you talk about for Americans to condemn things that for attacking our Constitution or ideals would obligate you under your own definition to speak out.
ME: Senator [taking the mic], he’s trying to be nice to you, but I don’t especially care about ingratiating myself. So trust me when I say that the Constitution is under much greater peril every day that you’re in office than it is with people like Mike Pompeo protecting your right to constitutional illiteracy. How’s that for speaking out?
Still later, Senator Booker continues:
SEN. BOOKER: I do want to give you a chance to speak on your comments on gay and lesbians. You said in a speech that morning in America that endorses perversion and calls it an alternative lifestyle, in your words. Is being gay a perversion.
MIKE POMPEO: Senator, when I was a politician I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry. I stand by that.
BOOKER: So, you do not believe it’s appropriate for two gay people to marry.
POMPEO: I continue to hold that view, it’s the same view —
BOOKER: So, people in the state department, I met some in Africa, that are married under your leadership, you do believe that should be allowed.
POMPEO: We have, I believe it is the case we have married gay couples at the CIA. You should know. I treated them with the exact same set of rights —
BOOKER: Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion? Yes or no?
ME: My turn please; What is perverted, Senator, is the idea any that manager or leader of a department must automatically and enthusiastically endorse any and all lifestyle choices made by all employees of that department. I gather from the tone and substance of your questions today that you wouldn’t allow a single level-headed person on your own staff, which really is rather intolerant, don’t you think?
BOOKER: Yes or no, sir. Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion that is what you said here in one of your speeches? Yes or no, do you believe gay sex is a perversion?
POMPEO: I’m going to give you the same answer I just gave you previously. My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation is the same.
ME: [Leaning over] And I’m going to give you a very candid answer. My personal belief is none of your damn business, and is utterly irrelevant to those under my leadership so long as I treat everyone with respect and dignity while guaranteeing their rights under the Constitution which, last I checked did not contain a Cory Booker clause compelling all of humanity to endorse your personal opinions.
BOOKER: So, I will conclude by saying you’re going to be secretary of state of the United States at the time that we have an increase in hate speech and hate actions against Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, Indian Americans, hate acts are on the increase in our nation. You’re going to be representing this country and our values abroad in a nations where gay individuals are under untold persecution and untold violence; your views do matter. You’re going to be dealing with Muslim states on Muslim issues and I do not necessarily concur that you are putting forward the values of our nation when you believe there are people in our country that are perverse.
ME: Is there no one in America guilty of some kind of perversion? That’s pure fiction even by your standards. Have you read the papers lately? Have you watched the news? There are a great many perversions of many types in America and around the world. The State Department’s job is to advance American interests in the world and to solidify the foundations of international stability necessary to secure the peaceful existence of free people and institutions. I have no interest in the personal attractions of the employees of the State Department, nor in their religious preferences, their ethnicity, skin color, genitalia, favorite ice cream, or any of the multitudinous arbitrary boxes into which you try to stuff Americans and divide them. I’m interested in attracting and retaining the best people to perform the mission at the highest level, period. This is the State Department, not Noah’s Ark.
Thus would conclude any career I might have that involved a Senate hearing, my tolerance for political posturing being on par with my tolerance for identity politics, “new country music,” asparagus, Memphis traffic, and beets. But unlike the guy acquitted of murdering his wife, at least I wouldn’t have to go through a lot of red tape.