In December 2008, Barack Obama summarily fired every ambassador appointed by George W Bush.
The media did not care for four reasons. First, it was Barack Obama. Second, they recognized that the president controls the executive branch. Third, it was a parting shiv to Bush. Finally, it was Barack Obama.
Whether any of the ousted diplomats cried is unknown.
But now in the Trump era, as Obama-era somnambulists awake every day to a new outrage that heretofore had been considered standard operating procedure inside the Beltway, a dismissed ambassador is given hours to vent her thoughts and feelz in front of one of Capitol Hill’s most powerful committees. If you weren’t moved by the sad tale of former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch—an Obama appointee—getting the ax by Donald Trump, according to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, you don’t have a pulse.
Perhaps Wallace has a point. After becoming accustomed to heads of state referring to you as “Madame Ambassador” and “Your Excellency,” being addressed as “Ms. Y” by a dozen or so Georgetown University whippersnappers would bruise anyone’s ego. (Yovanovitch admitted that she still retains a position at the State Department at the same salary with no daily responsibilities but also is allowed to moonlight as a Georgetown fellow. Sweet gig.)
Further, being forced to move out of a mansion in Kyiv tended to by a doting staff that helps you host important receptions for important people would sting, too. In one telling moment, Yovanovitch explained that the night she learned of her pending dismissal, she was hosting a party for a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist. “I was at my house,” she told one Democratic lawmaker.
But it wasn’t Yovanovitch’s house. The place she called “my house” is the ambassador’s residence in Kyiv, owned by the federal government and paid for by U.S. taxpayers. By all accounts, it is a lovely compound with a courtyard garden, two dining rooms, Ukrainian artifacts, and original artwork. Still, it never belonged to Yovanovitch. She simply was a temporary occupant serving at the pleasure of the president until he no longer was pleased.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) impeachment tribunal is backfiring in all sorts of ways, not the least of which is producing a drumbeat of bad news about the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, and his shady business deals in one of the most notoriously corrupt nations on the planet. But the testimony from lifetime federal bureaucrats once again showcases the hubris of the unelected ruling class who inhabits massive buildings on every city block in Washington, D.C.—or as Trump calls them, the swamp.
They want us to know that it is they, not the American people or lawmakers elected to represent our best interests, who really are in charge. (Another telling moment last Friday was when Yovanovitch lectured House Intelligence committee members that she took the same oath of office they did. As if they are equals.)
If the Trump era is the Beltway’s version of “Office Space,” the president is Peter Gibbons—dismantling his cubicle, refusing to submit his TPS reports, and parking in the boss’s primo spot. Trump’s defiance earns plaudits from Beltways outsiders—the two Bobs, in this scenario—who are set to promote him for his insubordination.
Folks like Yovanovitch, meanwhile, are a collective Milton, sitting in the basement while clutching the Swingline stapler they insist belongs to them and threatening to burn the place down if they don’t get their way.
The defiance of the unelected ruling class always comes cloaked in patriotism.
We’ve seen this bureaucratic temper tantrum over and over since November 2016. Shortly after Trump’s election, employees at the Environmental Protection Agency reportedly cried at the news; some needed a mental health day. “People are upset. Some people took the day off because they were depressed,” a government union representative told an industry journal on November 11, 2016. “They were recommending that people take sick leave and go home.” Employees were later offered counseling.
Obama Administration holdovers, particularly those involved in one of the biggest political scandals of all time, frequently remind Americans how lucky we are to have them around.
When former acting attorney general Sally Yates refused to implement Trump’s so-called travel ban on citizens from select majority-Muslim nations on a terror watchlist, she did so with the smug conceit that infects all Beltway swamp-dwellers.
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” she postured in a memo in January 2017 explaining why she planned to defy Trump’s executive order. (If only Yates would have applied the same standards to Trump campaign aide Carter Page before she co-signed a FISA warrant in October 2016 that permitted the government to spy on him for a year. Or perhaps she might have applied this to prevent her frame-up of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn?)
The defiance of the unelected ruling class always comes cloaked in patriotism. They merely are upholding their sworn duty, protecting sacred institutions, defending the rule of law, promoting constitutional norms, and whatnot.
Former FBI Director James Comey preened about his moral superiority in his autobiography, A Higher Loyalty. Comey spent 312 pages in the bestselling memoir patting himself on the back for being courageous and an inspiration for others in perpetuity. “I wrote this book because I hope it will be useful to people living among the flames who are thinking about what comes next,” he explained. “I also hope it will be useful to readers long after the flames are doused, by inspiring them to choose a higher loyalty, to find truth among lies, and to pursue ethical leadership.”
Funny thing: When Comey had a chance to tell the truth about initiating the corrupt probe into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, his steel-trap mind went blank. In congressional testimony last year, Comey said “I don’t recall,” “I don’t remember,” or “I don’t know” more than 200 times.
When the will of the swamp is challenged, we are often warned, it makes them super sad. “Morale” is jeopardized when grown adults earning a six-figure salary and accumulating a cushy public pension are reminded by other grown adults that they don’t run the show. Apparently everyone inside the Beltway suffers from a degenerative case of FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—a common affliction among teenage girls.
Bill Taylor, the acting Ukrainian ambassador, repeatedly whined to the House Intelligence Committee last Wednesday that he was “confused” by President Trump’s “irregular” (his words) channel to Ukraine. This channel included the White House chief of staff, other appointed ambassadors, Rudy Giuliani, and the president of the United States himself.
Tsk-tsk, Taylor lamented. “Although this irregular channel was well-connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of regular State Department channels.” Meaning, of course, that it operated outside of Taylor’s wandering eyes and ears.
Empty offices at the State Department, according to Yovanovitch, are causing a “crisis” at Foggy Bottom. “Leadership vacancies go unfilled and senior and mid level officers ponder an uncertain future,” she said in her opening statement. “The State Department is being hollowed from within in a competitive and complex time on the world stage. This is not a time to undercut our diplomats.”
(I’m not sure who has the heart to tell her that U.S. foreign policy seems to be moving along just fine without the International Desk of Mid Pacific Rim Islands being fully staffed.)
We are to believe that crying EPA employees, out-of-the-loop ambassadors, holier-than-thou law enforcement chiefs, and jobless assistant deputy undersecretaries for blah-blah affairs are the victims of a rogue president who must be removed from office for hurting their feelings and challenging their authority.
In other words, it is their Swingline stapler.
Chumps in Congress and in the White House—not to mention the folks paying for it all—are subservient to their demands. And in the end, if they don’t get their way, they’ll torch the place. What we are watching now is the slow burn of our democracy, not at the hands of Donald Trump, but by the Left and its eager servants in the swamp. If only it was as amusing, and fictional, as “Office Space.”