So! How about that Comey hearing?
Calling Trump a liar? Check.
Suggesting that Trump's behavior was of "investigative interest?" Check.Heavily implying that there was something fishy about Jeff Session's involvement in—and recusal from—the Russia investigation? Check.
Admitting that he leaked his own memo to the press? Check.
Seeming sorta human? Check. Wait, what?
Yes! Despite being a 6'8" career intelligence officer with a history of facing down presidents (and, presumably, bad guys) but at the very least knowing how to rock one hell of a memo, James Comey—the man who, some might say, toppled Hillary Clinton and ushered Donald Trump into the White House—is also adorably, relatably human.
It's true! Comey was invited by his boss to a work dinner that turned out to be a weirdly intimate, private affair in a closed-door office. You know, so they could "talk." Pretty much any woman reading this right now is already getting the heebie-jeebies just from remembering the last time that happened to her.
During the hearing, in between explaining to the Senate Intel Committee why he thought the President was a lying liar and how skeeved he was when Trump asked him if he would let that whole gnarly Flynn thing go, Comey was grilled by certain Senators about why he didn't challenge the President on his line-crossing on the spot. (And, you know, what exactly he expected when his skirt was so short.)
"Maybe if I were stronger, I would have," said Comey. Instead, he said, he was shocked by the brazenness of the president and "just took it in," searching "carefully" for the right words and "playing in my mind, what should my response be?"
How could he possibly have failed to speak up in that moment? Didn't he know it was wrong? Surely he should have just said so?
Sure, except for all the reasons not to — like, in the parlance of Jim Comey, oh fuzz, this is about to snowball, I need to contain and deflect. Or, oh fuzz, this is my boss, I need to tread carefully, I don't want to lose my job. Or, oh fuzz,, I'm uncomfortable, how can I steer this safely back into something that doesn't feel awkward, and even dangerous? Or even just the all-purpose, Lordy! Or the slightly stronger version which usually happens right before you freeze.
I can think of all sorts of situations where the first response would be to "just take it in" even if, later, you thought of what you might have said "if I were stronger." Yep, totally relatable.
But don't take my word for it — I'm a woman! There are men out there making that call, so you know it must be true.
MSNBC Host Chris Hayes: "I find it oddly comforting because I've choked in situations (of much lower stakes) and still kick myself for it."
Right? Totally human! Yaaaay, something we can all agree on!
Well, not quite. Because what about when we're not talking about a 6'8" white man, but one of those other humans - namely, a woman?
And lighting up my Twitter feed during today's Comey hearing were women, well, telling you that:
But as Ana Marie Cox points out, predations and abuses of power are not always about sex. Comey's experience is notable because it happened to a classically privileged, literally towering white man, not that it happened. The parallels to how people of color, and specifically black women, are treated in the workplace were stark to Stubhub's Bärí Williams, who noted that "Comey keeping receipts on Trump gave him a taste of #BlackWomenAtWork, or really any person of color or woman at work." She ticked off the behaviors: Saving emails, keeping memos, begging not to be left alone. "'Rationale for keeping said receipts is due to knowing "I'd need records to defend myself and [place of work],'" she tweeted. "This is wild. And relatable."
Relatable - especially when it's happened to you.
And now it's happened to tall drink o' G-man water James Comey, and now along with possible evidence of obstruction of justice and collusion with a hostile foreign power, his hearing has given us that. It may not be the stuff of impeachment articles, but it's yet another reminder that this administration is about predations and abuses of power from the top down. It's a signal that is carried loud and clear, from the GOP welcoming Greg Gianoforte with open arms to Trump's bullying behavior towards the Khans and Serge Kovaleski and the Mayor of London to 13 GOP Senators dismantling healthcare for millions in secret to Eric Trump responding to a deeply-reported article about his father skimming off his charity for children's cancer by saying that Democrats weren't even people to Jared and Ivanka's complicit, enabling silence.
Abusers count on their power keeping our responses in check. Comey showed that even if it shocks and paralyzes you the first time, it's never too late to speak out and fight back. May the country follow suit.