We don’t hear the old “Uncle Remus” stories any more, and for obvious reasons, but it’s a shame they can’t be shorn of the stereotypical racism of the Uncle Remus character and retold, because most of them reflected a pretty sophisticated understanding of human psychology.
The younger folks who read this blog probably never heard the one about B’rer Rabbit and the briar patch. The bottom line: B’rer Rabbit was being chased by (I think) a fox, and knew he couldn’t outrun the predator. He also knew the fox couldn’t negotiate the nearby briar patch, so he pled with the fox, “please don’t throw me in the briar patch! Oh, please, not that.” The fox, being stupid, immediately threw him in the briar patch, allowing him to make his escape.
I suspect that today, that fox would be named Devin Nunes.
Put aside, for purposes of this discussion, the very real harm done to the FBI and Department of Justice by the GOP (party of “law and order”) with this effort to discredit the Muller investigation.
For weeks–seems like months–we’ve been treated to an elaborate kabuki dance about “the memo.” There was a hashtag, “release the memo” which–as I noted yesterday– went viral with the help of bots. There were the responses from the Democrats, the FBI and DOJ–“Oh, please don’t release the memo/throw us in the briar patch!”
Then the memo was released. And to use a currently popular term, it’s an obvious nothing-burger.
The most succinct response came from Trevor Noah, on the Daily Show. “Four pages to discredit the whole FBI? I’ve had CVS receipts with more detail than this memo.”
A longer, but no less devastating putdown came from the always-excellent Charles Pierce:
I grew up with the Watergate tapes. I grew up with the revelations of the Pike and the Church committees. (Revelations, I might add, that produced the FISA process and the congressional intelligence procedures that Nunes turned into dog food Friday.) I grew up with George Schultz’s diaries that showed that everyone in the upper reaches of the Reagan administration was involved in the crimes of Iran-Contra. I watched every second of the several inquiries into the Whitewater land deal, which is how I know what a crock that was, but at least there was some phony substance to those phony charges. This Memo, Devin, isn’t even a good try. You and your staff have to be the laziest alleged obstructors of justice that I’ve ever seen. All it appears to be is a lame-ass defense of a self-important goofball Russophile named Carter Page. That’s all you got?
Pierce examines the “argument” the memo appears to be making, and (to put it mildly) finds it wanting.
For this, you needed a memo? For this, you needed a month’s worth of drama? For this, you needed to demolish the good faith between the intelligence community and the congressional committees designed to conduct oversight of that community? You couldn’t even get the date of David Corn’s breakthrough story in Mother Jones right. Hell, you could have saved us all the trouble and just done a couple of nights on Hannity to make that case. You’d have reached every single American that currently buys what you’re peddling.
As long as the memo remained secret, Nunes and his cohorts could have continued the pretense–they could have piqued the public imagination by suggesting that they had secret evidence of malfeasance. Once that “evidence” was out, however, once it had been made available in all its glorious inanity, they lost any benefit of the doubt that people might have accorded them.
Uncle Remus’ wily rabbit knew the fox was dumb. The FBI’s concerns, in contrast, were sincere and well-founded–if the agency can’t protect the identity of informers, fewer people will inform. Not only that, but classified information might be required in order to rebut misleading information in the memo–information the agency couldn’t and wouldn’t disclose. (Who knew the memo would be so weak and sloppy that it would rebut itself?)
Uncle Remus and B’rer Rabbit could have taught Devin Nunes a thing or two…..