George Orwell was wrong. A statist government using threat of force is not necessary to rewrite the recent past. Society is perfectly willing to censor itself of its own volition where partisan politics is concerned.
In the fictional world of 1984, the ruthless efficiency of an omniscient state working to blot out all references to its past fallibility was necessary to convince the populace their own memories were wrong.
In 2016 America, this kind of narrative engineering is being done by individuals who are willing to censor their selves and allow politicians to proclaim “James Comey and the FBI are corrupt and working to fulfill partisan goals. They have always been working to do so,” despite the very public and accessible digital record which shows their fecklessness.
Democrats who were apoplectic a week ago about the work of the FBI to undermine Hillary Clinton’s chances at winning the presidency and were demanding Comey’s resignation due to his violation of the Hatch Act are now praising the standards of the agency.
The GOP, on the other hand, has reneged on its recently expressed belief in Comey’s uprightness and refusal to bend before the iron fist of the mighty Clinton machine and has returned to its original repudiation of the FBI as a hyper-partisan executive agency.
These positions are necessary because the parties believe in their own infallibility. The facts of the investigation and the public record of their undulating positions are minor inconveniences to be blotted from the record. Simply bluster with enough fervor and righteous indignation and the voting populace will be swept up in the emotion of the moment and forget events of the previous weeks. It is to the everlasting shame of the American public that this in-the-moment whitewashing is succeeding.
The ever-devolving scandal over Comey and Clinton’s emails is a brilliant piece of narrative engineering that even Orwell, who prophesied exactly the kind of all-powerful administration necessary to allow this kind of behavior, could not foresee.
Republicans have now yet another case study for their belief that their political enemies and the organs of government are working in collusion against them with a friendly media. They will not stop to temper their histrionics they are benefited electorally by a whipped-up base.
The Democrats, for their part, have the ability to credibly allege that no criminal wrongdoing occurred in Clinton’s handling of emails as the nation’s top law enforcement agency has twice declined to prosecute her. Should they attain the White House, they will have the authority to purge the executive agencies of any who bear a stain of Comey’s alleged partisanship without risking outrage that could spark a second Marbury v. Madison style battle between the parties.
There are many aspersions which can be cast against Comey here. But his career in the federal government agency is almost certainly over.
No matter which party wins the White House on Tuesday, the party in power is sure to summarily dispatch him, claiming “Comey is against the party. Comey has always been against the party.”