In our polarized age of spite-based politics, some partisans have taken the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' concept to preposterous lengths. One of the more bizarre manifestations of this phenomenon has been the celebration and cultural martyrdom of a number of law enforcement officials who've been fired from their jobs over professional misconduct. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who repeatedly and knowingly lied to federal investigators, was showered with cash by The Resistance after his dismissal, because he was a frequent target of President Trump's ire. If Trump hates him, let's send him some cash. So what if he broke the law? It wasn't just grassroots lefties who got in on the action; multiple Democratic members of Congress also offered McCabe federal jobs in order to help him receive his full taxpayer-funded pension. Now that disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok has gotten the axe, lefty money is flowing in his direction, too: Roughly $300,000 in less than 24 hours, in fact. Might some cushy job offers also be forthcoming?
In a famous episode of the animated comedy series South Park, a cabal of gnomes unveils a business model under which they steal people's used underwear in order to turn a profit. Phase one of this scheme is to pilfer undergarments. Phase two is listed as, '?' (basically, "to be determined"). Phase three is profit! The joke is that they haven't figured out the most important step of their plan, blindly assuming that success will somehow magically be realized. Playing off of that meme, I half-joked on Twitter earlier that the McCabes and Strzoks of the world seem to have found the secret sauce to guaranteeing personal enrichment via throngs of absolute strangers:
1. Severely damage your institution’s credibility through egregious bias and/or misconduct.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 14, 2018
*resistance martyrdom https://t.co/FFaPXcyFtX
Convincing a sizable chunk of reactionary leftists that the consequences for your own actions are actually Donald Trump's fault has emerged as an easy ticket to reaping six-figure GoFundMe windfalls. This is especially true if Trump has called out the newly-minted victim/hero by name. The truth is that McCabe made a choice to lie to federal officials. The president didn't make him do that. And Strzok sent those many incriminating text messages all on his own. He chose, of his own volition, to tell his mistress and colleague that he'd personally "stop" Trump from winning the presidency. That's not merely a "personal political view" -- which FBI agents are allowed to have, just like everybody else. It's a statement of intent to take action in pursuit of an explicitly partisan end, in the course of carrying out official duties as a lead investigator on two politically-charged probes. The recent Inspector General report blasted Strzok for "cast[ing] a cloud over the entire FBI investigation" into Hillary Clinton's email scandal, and specifically could not rule out bias playing a role in investigative decisions:
Laura is 100% correct. Anyone reporting that the IG report clears the FBI of any accusations of political bias are ignoring the post-July 2016 section where the Weiner laptop emerges. https://t.co/eBj7tEcc7S— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 15, 2018
That same IG's office is currently in the process of reviewing Strzok and other DOJ officials' handling of the Russia matter, as well, so the book is not yet closed on these issues. But at the very least, Strzok's own words have been devastating to the reputation of the agency for which he worked. Even if you prefer to emphasize that there's no ironclad proof of actual impropriety (again, of which Strzok was not cleared by the watchdog's analysis), the ex-agent's virulently anti-Trump texts -- especially the "we'll stop it" and 'insurance policy' messages -- posed a grave embarrassment to his former employer, shaking the public's trust in the Bureau's political impartiality, and unquestionably creating a profound appearance of impropriety.
Strzok's misconduct was sufficient to cause career FBI bureaucrats responsible for internal review processes to recommend a multi-month suspension and a demotion. The Bureau's senior leadership evidently determined that this relative wrist-slap would send the wrong message about accountability, and hinder their urgent efforts to restore public trust in federal law enforcement. So they fired him. Strzok's defenders are claiming this decision was politically-motivated (quite a rich allegation, considering the circumstances of his ouster), but that explanation doesn't hold much water. It's true that Trump's incessant tweets constitute prima facie pressure, but the claim that top DOJ leaders are more or less doing President Trump's bidding should seem a bit silly to anyone who's watched Trump's months-long public harangue against those very same people for...not doing his bidding.
Furthermore, let's not forget the bipartisan approbation with which the appointment of Christopher Wray to lead the FBI was greeted. Wray's subsequent defense of his agency in the face of repeated barbs from the president was similarly met with rapturous applause from liberals. If Wray is an honest, professional straight-shooter with exemplary integrity -- as is the DC consensus -- we shouldn't take seriously whiplash-inducing suggestions that Strzok's firing is a nefarious case of the FBI brass bowing to Trump's personal vendettas. Wray isn't a Trump henchman. And it's not like the damage Strzok has inflicted is shrouded in mystery. It's out in the open, in black and white. Allowing him to remain in the FBI's employ, given everything we know, would've represented an open, festering wound to the Bureau's already-harmed reputation in the minds of tens of millions of Americans. Of course he should be gone. He's not a victim in this, and he's certainly no martyr. He was felled by his own thumbs, which betrayed his hugely problematic mindset. I'll leave you with this tweet from the son of the Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman, which has gone viral in lefty circles:
I’m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok’s career was ruined by my father’s political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress.— Bobby Goodlatte (@rsg) August 13, 2018
Thank you for your service sir. You are a patriot https://t.co/3dNN3AlXCZ
No, Peter Strzok's career was ruined by the actions and decisions of Peter Strzok. Bobby is welcome to air intra-family grievances if he so chooses, but he's not welcome to re-write history. Even if one thinks the Strzok hearing was a farce (many of the "questions" were ludicrously preening, even as the witness was sneering, arrogant and smug), cheering Strzok as a upstanding, service-minded patriot is, well, deeply embarrassing. By the way, since many in the media suddenly seem rather interested in the views of a political figure's offspring denouncing his parent's actions, I wonder if they'll also hang on every word of Susan Rice's son.