Making History: Comey hearing is just one piece of a bigger, still untold story.
If you’ve ever read a textbook version of U.S. History — which I’ve done more than a few times during my kids’ high school years — you know that some historical moments are highlighted with greater detail than others.
Of course, the textbooks cover the major moments in time — think 9/11, the assassination of President Kennedy, Pearl Harbor or the 1929 stock market crash. But what about the other incremental “events,” the ones that shape a larger historical period of time? The Civil Rights era and the fight for same-sex marriage, for example, were shaped by years of marches and hearings, votes and court rulings, setbacks and small victories before anything monumental occurred.
Today, the nation is all abuzz about former FBI director James Comey and his testimony before a Congressional committee about his interactions with Donald Trump before and after the inauguration, as well as the appropriateness of those interactions. Seriously, it’s like the Super Bowl of politics for the news media and political news junkies around the world, complete with screening parties and what will surely be days and days of post-game analysis.
But is #ComeyDay, as it’s being tagged on social media, such a big deal that it might someday be a textbook worthy, historical moment in time? My guess is no. Rather than be a Super Bowl-like event that ends with the taking down of a sitting president, it seems more likely that the Comey testimony will go down as just another twist in the ongoing saga of Trump’s presidency. While parts of the testimony are certainly damning for Trump, I can’t imagine that it can make things that much worse for him.
After all, in less than six months into his presidency, Trump’s administration appears to be in shambles, his credibility has gone down the toilet and his approval ratings continue to fall. Beyond that, his legislative agenda has come to a crawl and U.S. foreign relations are less stable because of him. Trump’s travel bans have been blocked by the courts — and his own tweets are making it hard for his lawyers to defend it. He has alienated America from the rest of the world by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. And Obamacare remains the law of the land — even if Trump and the Republicans are trying to suffocate it to death.
That brings me back to the history books. I can’t help but wonder if something like the Comey testimony, which seems like such a big deal today, will become just a small sub-story of the larger chapter about the Trump presidency. And what if it turns out that the Trump presidency is just a smaller sub-story of an even larger story, such as the downfall of the Republican party and the rise of another one?
It may sound far-fetched but consider that Republicans have the White House, control both houses of Congress and hold a majority of governor’s offices across the country. And yet, they can’t seem to govern — and continue to pursue policies that seem to harm their own constituents.
By now, everyone has heard about the Republican’s Obamacare repeal and replace debacle, the one that takes health insurance away from 23 million people. The effort is stalled in Congress because Republicans can’t even agree with each other, let alone Democrats and the White House, too.
Meanwhile, the country is taking note on how Republicans are turning a blind eye to Trump’s blatant disregard for ethics, morals and even Constitutional law. Had Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama said — or done — even one of the things that Trump has said or done since taking office, Republicans would be up-in-arms, calling for impeachments and prison time.
HIstorians have the luxury of looking back at events in time and cobbling them together to tell the stories of defining periods, such as the Great Depression, the Cold War or the War on Terror. They decide what’s worthy of a mention in the historical account and what’s dismissed as an incremental twist or turn. For all we know, the rise and fall of Trump will end up being a mere footnote in a historical account about a major shift in political parties that drastically changes the path of the nation for the remainder of this young century.
Maybe I’m wrong. But maybe I’m right.
We’ll see what history says.