To Serve my Turn Upon Him

by Deana Chadwell6/16/17
Does anyone else have the strange feeling that we’re caught up in some Shakespearian tragedy, some skullduggery creeping through the entourage of Henry VIII? I sense spies hiding in the curtains and hear whispers behind the potted palms. I’ve always thought of American politics as functioning in a fairly straightforward way, without the baroque, twisted nature of the old European courts. But here we are. Last week, watching Comey testify I kept hearing in my head the words of Iago in the opening act of Othello,

I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow’d.

Iago is the most evil character in all of fictional literature. Throughout the play he is referred to as “Honest Iago.” He’s really good at being bad. He looked good, competent, confident. Weren’t we told how honest Comey is? What a fine, upstanding person he is? Doesn’t he give that appearance? Tall, handsome, impeccably dressed, buttoning his suit jacket in the appropriate lawyerly manner, looking straight into the eyes of those he lies to.

Iago is also fond of breaking the fourth wall – he comes right down to the footlights, looks the audience right in the eye and tells us what he’s going to do to Othello. And there we sit, stuck in our seats, unable to do anything to warn him. I felt like that listening to Comey as he told us that he leaked his memos in order to get a special counsel set up to investigate Trump (This he did right after Trump fired him.), yet no one rushed out and arrested him. No audible gasps, no rolling eyes – nothing. It was like he’d just announced that he’d had lunch.

Last July Jim Comey shocked us all with his weird testimony about Hillary and her errant emails. Yes, she’s guilty. No, we won’t indict her. Huh? The whole nation walked around with wrinkled brows for weeks. What kind of a Janus act was this guy performing? Iago liked to swear, “By Janus!” I heard him again:

Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:..

His “end” is peculiar indeed. Is he motivated by hatred for Trump? Or by fear of Hillary? Or fear of Obama? Obama was still in office during these first two forays. Both of them are dangerous people, so fear of them is not as irrational as hatred of Trump.

Or – more likely yet – is he motivated by his own ambitions, his own greed? That motivates many a villain. Comey once worked at Lockheed Martin where in one year he earned $6 million as vice president and general counsel  (It is interesting to note that Lockheed is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.) His questionable connections to a London bank and to his brother’s real estate dealings also raise character questions. We never do know Iago’s motivations; he tells us, but he keeps changing his mind, and his wife, speaking of his jealousies, says:

They are never jealous for the cause.
They are jealous for they are jealous.

It’s hard to tell what Comey is up to; it’s like trying to stay ahead of Thomas Cromwell.  On July 5th he announces his Hillary-guilty-but decision (which was not his to make). On October 28th, he announces he’s reopening the investigation into her emails, then turns around, less than a month later and just 48 hours before the election, and says, basically, “Never mind.”  What maneuver is this? What palace intrigue?

Never mind! On Hillary’s watch, and under her supervision classified information was left to wander the streets alone, at night, in fact ended up on the lap top of Anthony Weiner, well-known pervert and husband to Hillary’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin who has well-known close family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And the perfect, “honest” Comey is willing to look the other way. Never mind. Nothing to see here; move right along.

This man was the head of the FBI, but we cannot tell whether he’s at all interested in the well-being of the people of the United States, or just intense about the well-being of James Comey. He certainly was interested in expressing his feelings about things, but had no factual, useful information for us. He felt strange; he was very concerned; he was even nauseous on occasion. Do any of us care how he felt? I had always thought of the FBI as a just-the-facts-ma’am kind of organization.

To make matters even more unsettling, now that the Russia conspiracy has fizzled like cotton candy on a hot day, he’s drummed up some real serious reservations about Trump’s General Flynn comment – which only Comey heard and which Comey only brought up after Trump had fired him. Curiouser and curiouser.

And why is Comey’s BFF the special prosecutor trying to prove The Donald obstructed justice? How can you obstruct justice if no crime has been committed? Trump, could, if he needed to, just pardon Flynn, but the General doesn’t seem to have done anything illegal; talking to the Russians was his job. And if Comey thought Trump’s remarks were an order to circumvent prosecuting Flynn, why didn’t Comey do what he thought he was told? But he didn’t do anything until he lost his job.

I am glad to see the President no longer trusts this man. It was good that he waited until Comey was not around to fire him – no chance for this Judas to hide anything. I do wonder what Trump has on him and I do hope it’s good, for Comey appears to be doing the same thing Iago did to Othello –

…practising upon his peace and quiet
Even to madness.

Later in the play, Iago, attempting to convince Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity, says,

I speak not yet of proof.

There wasn’t any because she was innocent. Then later he adds:

And this may help to thicken other proofs
That do demonstrate thinly.

But there weren’t any other proofs. A point Othello misses. It’s a point the media and those who pay attention to it miss as well. There are no proofs. Of anything. There’s no evidence of any behavior even slightly unethical, let alone illegal. But charge ahead they will.

They do because all they have to accomplish is to kill Trump’s reputation and that’s not hard to do. As Iago points out to Cassio (whose reputation he has just destroyed:

Reputation is an idle and most false
imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without
He (and Comey) should know.

Yet later on in Act IV he tells Othello:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

And knowing that, he went right ahead and did everything to ruin the reputations of Othello’s wife, his best friend, and of Othello himself.

Throughout the play Iago knows exactly what he’s doing. Throughout the Trump presidency Comey has known what he was doing, too. I don’t think he’s as smart and sly as Iago, but he’s attempting to ruin the president and he’s using many of Iago’s methods to do so. We should remember as we watch this drama unfold that, though by the end of the play 5 people are dead including Othello and Desdemona, Iago is hauled off to the dungeon to be tortured and executed. Comey will get his – I just pray it’s before he does more damage, not after.

Deana Chadwell blogs at She is also an adjunct professor at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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25 Responses to To Serve my Turn Upon Him

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I think Comey dislikes Trump. Heck, I can understand that. I dislike him as well. But I don’t think there are any heroes in this story. I think Comey used Trump’s aggressive dishonesty to let him hang himself. Two villains self-combusting in the putrid confines of Washington DC.

    Comey is clearly a DC survivor. He has climbed the greasy pole. He knows how to play politics. But I find it hard to cast Comey as the villain because, in my heart of hearts, I would much prefer a President Pence to this goofball we have now…this Falstaff of a president.

    I also think it’s quite likely that Comey’s notes are 100% accurate. He certainly meant to hoist Trump on his own petard of bombasticism. And let’s consider the possibility that any honorable man (if Comey is one…and I’m not saying that he is) would rightly be shocked by the likes of a President Trump.

    Regarding Flynn, I always wondered why Trump caved so easily on him. Wow. He basically let DC chop off his manhood by doing so. If Flynn is a good man right for the position, Trump should have fought for him. But we’ve seen already that Trump has no stomach for fighting for other people. He’s a petty and small man who saves his fights for his own specific and often bizarre personal grievances.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    We are fast returning to the historical norm in governance. Henry VIII would have given his left arm for the power and control exercised by our federal government. They can listen in on everyone’s conversations, and check all their financial dealings with the push of a button. There is not a soul in this country who could not be broken by our “Justice” department due to our insane legal system.

    Comey, Trump and the rest are merely the characters one would expect to be thrown up by corrupt humanity. The details may vary, but the Leitmotiv is the same. Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

    There once was a country called America, where people were free and government was limited. A normal human being could live according his lights and not worry about the villains who populate most of politics because government was not a leviathan. Alas, that time is a fading memory.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The precise quote by Lord Action was ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Comey, Trump and the rest are merely the characters one would expect to be thrown up by corrupt humanity. The details may vary

      One interesting concept that Ali coined was “rope-a-dope.” That’s surely what Comey did. Trump’s one and only concern was that the world know that he wasn’t under investigation. But if his concern was the United State of America and the Constitution, this clown would have fired this other clown on day one.

      Again, I see no heroes in this. Even if we ascribe every base motive to Comey, this does not mean that Trump is wearing the white hat.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Note that Iago is Spanish and Italian for Jacob, which is considered equivalent to James (hence the Stuart supporters were Jacobites), I refer to James Carville as Iago.

    We had Othello in senior English, and m;y teacher pointed to those two seemingly contradictory comments on reputation. Both in fact apply to Iago, who relies on his good name — which is actually a false image.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    From a purely political point of view, I believe Trump was quite stupid to fire Comey when he did. Either he should have fired him upon becoming president or waited until the whole nonsense about Russian hacking had died down.

    With the appointment of a special counsel, things have gotten dangerous for Trump. Special counsels can and do investigate anything they want and have no incentive to close down their investigations. On the contrary, they have every incentive to keep them going until they get a scalp or two. That is our insane legal system.

    It should be very clear that this is about the deep state. Comey is a card-carrying member of the deep state. Trump’s dismissal of him was something which threatened the members of the deep state at a very basic level. There was no way they were going to let Trump just walk away from it.

    Trump’s big problem would appear to be that he cannot think clearly or learn from experience when something involves his ego. He should have shut up and let Comey stay head of the FBI until the time was right to slip a knife between Comey’s ribs.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I consider Trump a part of the deep state as well, a card-carrying member of the Club of Crony Capitalism. Remember, this is the guy who bragged that he could buy politicians.

      Trump is a dishonest idiot. Comey is…I don’t really know, but I give him some benefit of the doubt because any honorable and decent man would be aghast at Trump. But Comey is certainly no angel, but there is that factor.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Trump is a crony capitalist, yes, but I don’t consider him a part of the deep state.

        His interactions with government would appear to have been, mainly, on the state and local level. The federal government doesn’t give building permits in NYC.

        He has no background in the intelligence community. He has no background in the federal bureaucracy. He is not a lawyer or banker who jumps from the government to the private sector back to the government. He is not part of the military-industrial-foreign policy complex, which does exist.

        He is too much of an outsider and brash loud-mouth to be accepted into the brotherhood of the Illuminati. He is a vulgar buffoon who has achieved a degree of success and can be tapped for contributions, but he is not up to Skull and Bones. He has no pedigree and does not play the game in order to gain entrance to the deep state.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Let Trump proceed with an organized, bold, disciplined, and reform-minded agenda and I’ll be his biggest cheerleader. I haven’t seen that yet. And this is why the guy was elected.

          Does anyone seriously get the sense this man has a coherent plan, deep state or not? One day he’s for Paul Ryan’s Ryancare. Now he considers it “mean.” This mercurial man is incapable of leading a reform movement because he can’t reform himself first.

          And I’ll accept exactly zero apologizing for Trump’s ineptness because of the “deep state.” Conservative agendas (such as his ever is or will be) have been opposed in DC for like forever. Reagan was viciously opposed as well. The difference is, he wasn’t a lunatic. And he was an elegant and thoughtful speaker and writer. He could persuade people to his point of view. Trump has no hope of that because he’s so inherently dishonest and petty and has no discernible ideology outside the gratification of his own ego.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It’s hard to evaluate Comey without considering the FBI’s wretched performance in terror investigations. Clearly, he cooperated with the Obama Gang’s desire to target conservatives, not jihadists.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m no fan of Comey. Why the guy wasn’t fired on day one is what needs to be understood. (And, by the way, we’re still waiting for DT to “lock her up”.)

          But what I won’t do is elevate this bum, Trump, because he’s opposed by another villain. Let Trump earn his own virtue. So far he’s gotten it on the cheap because of the nature of his opposition.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            But what I won’t do is elevate this bum, Trump, because he’s opposed by another villain. Let Trump earn his own virtue. So far he’s gotten it on the cheap because of the nature of his opposition.

            I don’t think one has to elevate this bum to acknowledge the sorry state of affairs in this country. He is a manifestation of that sorry state. But he is hardly the root cause of the problem and I am happy to fight the problem(s) any way possible, including using the bum where he might be effective. The point is to try and channel him in the right direction. I know it is hard, but at the moment, he is potentially the main hammer we have.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              A man could be dying of a bad heart, a heart so bad he needs a transplant. But without the transplant of a functional heart, he is no better off.

              For all the sins (real or inflated) of Comey and the “deep state” (which is to say, his political opposition), there is no winning unless a functioning, coherent, well-understood ideology can take its place. Trump cannot offer that. All he can do is muddle the very idea of opposition to these guys.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I believe your analogy is not appropriate.

                It may be true that the patient needs a heart transplant, but letting the deep state take charge of the operation is the equivalent of “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Once they have performed their surgery there will be little or no chance of recovery.

                As I have said, if Trump had medical problems and had to resign, I think it would probably be a plus for the country. But his removal or even attempted removal by these scoundrels would be deadly for our future.

                The deep state is not simply Trump’s opposition. They are opponents of a representative republic. The type has been around throughout history. At one time, the USA was a special case. No longer.

  5. Anniel says:

    Sorry, but Comey makes my skin crawl every time I see him. And when he weeps with fear of being “alone” with President Trump and finding it threatening. Oh, gag me please.

    Deanna, the comparison with Iago is right on target. Why anyone in their right mind would trust him with anything at all is beyond belief.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Incidentally, we may be seeing the same sort of thing with Robert Mueller. Like Comey, he has this impressive reputation for integrity. Yet he’s running an investigation in which a key witness is a good friend (Comey) who sought to get him appointed to the post, and has chosen a number of partisan Demagogues to run the investigation (though I don’t know if everyone there is). Does he really deserve his reputation any more than Comey does?

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The link is to an article from a writer who lives in Hongkong and was a very strong Ted Cruz supporter. I have to agree with everything he says.

    As much as I dislike Trump, I think the present not-so-silent coup is much more dangerous for the country than Trump. Should the conspirators win, we will be little more than a authoritarian state with the party and apparatchiks running things.

    One is seeing the reason many who voted for Trump did so for purely destructive reasons. And given the deep state power, I cannot completely blame them. The deep state will not go away unless destroyed.

    I have long thought one of the worst characteristics of our system is the ability for lawyers to hop between government and private business on a regular basis. The only other people who come close to having this advantage are financiers and many of them are also lawyers.

    In other professions, such jumps are not possible. To give up one’s job to run for office would too often be damaging to one’s long-term career. For lawyers, it is career enhancement.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Someone is going to have to locate the leakers, prosecute them, and send them off to prison — preferably not a “country club” prison. Leavenworth might be a nice choice indeed. (My father was stationed at Fort Leavenworth for 2 years, where I started my pre-schooling. The earliest memories I can actually place come from there.)

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s a fairly detailed analysis of the situation by Andy McCarthy. And if we are to put this into Shakespearean terms, it’s more The Comedy of Errors meets Henry VIII.

    If Trump was a contestant on his own reality show, he’d have to fire himself. His own incompetence and unfamiliarity with his office have seemingly plunged him into a controversy of his own making. Yeah, you can blame the piranhas for the bloodletting if you stick your leg into a pool of them. But a smart person (and Trump is supposed to be that) wouldn’t put his leg into that piranha-infested pool in the first place.

    To make this a “Deep State vs. Trump” affair is to automatically give Trump a pass for his own stupidity. One thing that apparently Steve Bannon very much wanted to do was to dismantle the unelected regulatory state. What happened? He was sidelined while Trump’s liberal family members (not to mention his own strange and mercurial nature) took any wind out of the sails of reform. Even Ann Coulter has just about had it, sending out several tweets noting, for instance, that not one bit of the wall has been built.

    By drafting a political neophyte whose greatest ability seems to be braggadocio, we have handed “the deep state” even more power. As McCarthy notes, Trump should have fired Comey on day one and staffed departments with his own people. He didn’t. Why not? Well, because Trump never has been an enemy of the “deep state.” He’s a corrupt part of this whole system. Has Hillary been indicted yet? Has he “locked her up”? No.

    And he notes that Sessions made a dumb mistake by recusing himself when he didn’t need to. Why the hell wasn’t Andrew C. McCarthy considered for Attorney General? You need people in there who know what the hell they are doing if you are going to take on the “deep state” or any other opponent. Goodness sakes, even if we accept the premise of the Deep State (and I do to the extent that it is a generally increasingly powerful left-of-center unelected bureaucracy who is waging a leftwing Jihad on any unbelievers or bureaucracy-reducers), you can’t vanquish it by electing The Idiot State as the opposition.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Trump has had many triumphs and many failures, and it’s still early. But the failure to select his own people to take over is undoubtedly his worst failure. A lot decisions are still being made even now by Obama Gangsters. (Why is Koskinen still running the IRS and not facing a term in Leavenworth?)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Good points.

        And that bolsters my opinion that:

        1) Trump is showing no intrinsic competency in regards to his job (regardless of his goals or direction).

        2) Trump is not a particular enemy of the Deep State. Remember, this is the guy whose is very very prickly about people being loyal to him and supposedly (like Romney) loves firing people, particularly if they are disloyal (aka “don’t flatter him”).

        3) Trump’s sphere of concern never travels far outside his relatively shallow emotional universe. That is, anyone looking for an organized, long-range plan to drain the swamp will not likely find one.

        Comey may be the worst son-of-a-bitch since Benedict Arnold. But then why not fire him day one? After the mess with Hillary, wasn’t it obvious the man was too political and a threat? Why go to great lengths to cause a scandal where it could have been avoided? Stock the place with your own people, for criminy’s sake. You are Chief Executive. Learn your damn job. There are all kinds of subtexts in this, and nearly all point to a combination of Trump being petulant and incompetent.

        Meanwhile, has anyone noticed the level of the swamp? It’s going up.

        But, hey, if Trump was elected to simply assuage our feelings, to be an instrument to fight back against our mental torment, then our job as the electorate is to always apologize for Trump and paint an extra-deep shade of black on the hats of the bad guys. But if they are the Deep State, what the hell does that make us? The Dumb State?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          And he has the problem of a special prosecutor whose integrity is as highly regarded as Comey’s, and perhaps no more deservedly so. Ben Crystal, noting the Demagogues Mueller hired, compared them to 3 historical figures — one I didn’t recognize and haven’t yet been able to guess, Torquemada, and Stalin. For anyone who wants to try his own guess on the first figure, the link is;

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Timothy, we can’t get swamped in the minutia here. But my assessment of Trump is that he’s a “live by the bombast/die by the bombast” sort of guy. What’s he do after firing Comey? He meets with the Russians and discusses making them some deals.

            It’s quite possible, given Trump’s Machiavellian character, that he’s had all kinds of nefarious relationships with the Russians quite outside of anything to do with the election (the loss of which is entirely Hillary’s fault). He wouldn’t be the first man I’ve seen try to wallpaper over guilt with a little in-your-face bravado: “Think I’m in league with the Russians? Well, screw you, I’ve just met with them and we made some deals.”

            I’m at the point where I’m tired of discussing this stuff. But I can see the conservative side getting corrupted by this man, tempted to overlook all his faults (and just lack of a coherent program) because he has nasty enemies. Having nasty enemies isn’t enough. And, dammit, if the point of his presidency is to drain the swamp (not sure how he defines the swamp…those who don’t like him?), why not fire Comey on day one?

            We likely won’t know until more leaks come or some inside exposés are printed. But my guess is that Trump liked Comey because he did (I guess…finally) provide some late ammunition against Hillary. (Had he done his job, it would have been early ammunition and with some teeth behind it.) So Trump probably was not all that hot to get rid of him. Given that he views the world through cable TV and who today is pissing him off, Comey didn’t hit that threshold until Comey himself trolled Trump by testifying that some of Trump’s guys (and thus presumably Trump) were under investigation for dirty dealing with the Russians.

            This is almost certainly why Comey had to go. But then someone must have convinced him to come up with the cover story of acting on advice from the acting Attorney General. The rest is history. He started to spin the tangled web and got caught up in it.

            Myself, I would have stood by Flynn from day one. As soon as Trump showed weakness and waffling on this, they had him. I think everyone and his brother then knew that this was no strong man but a man with both eyes on the polls (or some other uniquely Trumpian metric). He could be had. And he was. Comey nailed him, and as McCarthy noted, now Mueller (who should not have been authorized to lead a special counsel because, as McCarthy noted, this was simply a matter of spywork, not legal work) has basically carte blanche to dig until he finds something either illegal or catch someone lying.

            If you follow McCarthy’s article, all of this could easily have been avoided, and not just because of some of Trump’s dumb tweets. The president has a perfect right to fire certain people and what we see happening (and what a laugh in regards to draining the swamp) is the the Left is once again defining what a Republican can and cannot do in the performance of his duties. Hell, B. Hussein Obama can sign any damn sort of executive order but it’s now going to be considered poison for a Republican to fire one of the enemy.

            Nice work, Trump. But then, he never saw these guys as the enemy. Whether he figures it out or not is anyone guess. I’m guessing not.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              My take on the Comey firing is that Trump was initially willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but soured on him because he wouldn’t investigate the leaks and wouldn’t announce in public that Trump wasn’t being investigated. He may have decided to wait until he had a DAG (who directly supervises the FBI) to come up with some better justifications for the firing.

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