FBI Director James Comey demonstrated that he can take the dance floor and do the Texas Two-Step better than anyone out there. His performance will be heralded for his intellectual ability to build a case that goes in one clear direction, and then swings suddenly and inexplicably the other way.
I am a writer of novels and screenplays. Some of my work will be judged better than others, but at the very least I have avoided the writing sin known as the deus ex machina. This is a device where the writer inserts a totally arbitrary plot development that has nothing to do with what has happened before in order to resolve the story. The inexorable logic of the plot points in one direction, but the storyteller does not want it to end there for one reason or another. Therefore, he just concludes his tale in a way that does not flow from the material.
Readers feel cheated, when they stumble upon a deus ex machina; and rightfully so. It is not simply that the writer has condescended to them, as if to say that you, the reader, are so stupid you will like the resolution regardless of its totally arbitrary nature. Even worse, the reader senses that the writer has violated the very rule of law that applies to his own storytelling. The writer has undermined his own professional standard, the very principle that allows all of us to see that there is a certain integrity in storytelling, and the result is a loss of legitimacy.
Director Comey’s conclusion that Secretary Clinton’s conduct in the email scandal ultimately does not warrant criminal prosecution is analogous to the writer introducing a deus ex machina into his story. He spends most of his speech today laying out the case against Secretary Clinton. In particular, he shows how she acted with extreme carelessness in regard to her handling of classified materials. He acknowledges the several statutory provisions that say that a crime has been committed when there is a showing of “intent” or “gross negligence.”
One will presume logically that, even if “intent” cannot be proven, the extreme carelessness Director Comey asserts is the same as “gross negligence.” Of if one is not willing to make that presumption, then surely he will presume that there is enough here to warrant further review by a grand jury.
Then comes the deus ex machina: Regardless of the case presented, the Director does not recommend an indictment.
Interestingly, the Director acknowledges the double standard, for he goes on to say that others should not presume from his decision in this case that they will not be prosecuted for similar conduct. At that point, he may as well have tipped his head to George Orwell and said, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
This is the essence of elitism. It goes by various names: royalism, oligarchy, crony capitalism, etc. The relevant point is always the same: Some people will be protected from the demands of the law, because the powers that be regard them as too critical to their power status. In essence, brute power prevails over law, no matter that the power may be wielded by men in custom suits who give lip service to constitutionalism, due process, and legal precedent.
We saw similar lawlessness exercised by the slaveholding oligarchy prior to the Civil War. There are laws, and then there are “special considerations” afforded the Southern slaveowners who simply refused to recognize any legal limits on the expansion of their slave system. That lawlessness ate away at the fabric of civil unity, until there was no viable alternative but Civil War. Take away the rule of law, and there is simply brute force. Man reaps what he sows.
We are not at the edge of Civil War today, if only because “we the peasants” have neither the arms nor the leadership to wage war against the elites who stand atop the Washington-Wall Street Axis. Nevertheless, we are at the edge of a great political upheaval, a populism that may destroy more than it reforms, and yet a populism that is understandable given the gross examples we see all too often of elite privilege.
Secretary Clinton will not be held accountable for “gross negligence” that would have sent anyone else to jail. She will be protected by the mainstream media. The amateurish Trump campaign likely will do something else stupid that takes the heat off of her. The details will be forgotten. Nevertheless, even if only vaguely, the people will sense that lawless elitism prevailed today. They will know yet again that they have been screwed.
It is only a matter of time before the people have their say.