Less and less nuance
USA Today characterizes the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey as inevitable. "The surprise is it took so long," it wrote. He tried to occupy a No Man's Land in a Washington increasingly divided along party lines and caught in a crossfire. "Comey had been a dead man walking for some time. He was a director without a constituency. He had tried to strike a balance in a sharply divided political environment and wound up alienating both sides. He had to go."
Comey, if you are to believe Hillary, is the man who stole the election from her. In November of 2016 "Mrs. Clinton told donors on a 30-minute conference call that Mr. Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress about the inquiry 11 days before Election Day had thrust the controversy back into the news and had prevented her from ending the campaign with an optimistic closing argument." Now he's the man Donald Trump doesn't trust to investigate him. In his letter to Comey Trump said that "while I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."
The recommendation appears to be based in part on recommendations by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to Sessions arguing Comey usurped Loretta Lynch's authority and improperly let Hillary off the hook -- a matter likely to be as explosive as the Director's firing itself.
The dismissal has already sparked a huge uproar. Keith Ellison tweeted "we are witnessing a Consitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes." The administration's calculation in firing him must have concluded uproars didn't matter any more, that it was time to begin open and undisguised conflict. Readers will recall the first time I argued that it had become a fight to the finish. Trump wasn't aiming to hold off his opponents. He was aiming to destroy them.
There really isn't much choice when one side is called the Resistance and the other side is presumably incumbent. Electoral democracy was supposed to prevent zero sum games, to guarantee multiple-variable optimization. The polarization of Washington puts all that at risk. But perhaps it was inevitable. The tolerance and apathy of former years, someone observed, were the deceptive last virtues of a dying society. Silence and guarded speech not a peace but whispering in the face of danger.
Truces can end with a shocking suddenness. Whatever Comey's role in recent events was he could not remain out in the wire.
Ironically, the last administration has made is possible to confirm Trump's new FBI director with only 51 Senate votes. Harry Reid's nuclear option is a gift that keeps on giving to any party in power. It may have occurred to Reid by now that "any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take all you have." But it is doubtful he will repent. In a rational world there would be a bipartisan movement to de-build government like we de-built nuclear arsenals so that they can threaten no one. But in the real world everyone wants power and damn the torpedoes so long as they get it.