We had that thing you know

Ana Marie Cox notes that some people think of John Dean as the parallel to Comey but she has been thinking of Anita Hill.

To be completely honest, I didn’t just think of Hill’s experience, either. I thought of mine. Indeed, anyone who has been the target of sexual harassment or sexual abuse would have trouble not hearing echoes of their own story in what Comey had to say about the president. When I noted on Twitter that Trump’s behavior with Comey sounded a lot like that of a sexual predator, my timeline exploded with grim confirmation. And I wasn’t the only one making that connection.

The president went out of his way to let Comey know he was being watched, under the thin excuse of calling “just to tell me I was doing an awesome job.” Trump was persistent and intentionally obtuse in his requests, cloaking his predation in false familiarity and phrases that could be taken as jokes or as threats (“Because I have been very loyal to you,” Trump allegedly told Comey, “very loyal; we had that thing you know.”)

Comey’s responses to this campaign of harassment were disturbingly familiar as well: In order to keep his job and not make the situation even more awkward, Comey let Trump think he was getting his way. “It is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further,” Comey testified in his written statement, even though, as he added today, what “[my] common sense told me is he’s looking to get something for granting my request for staying in the job.”

At the hearing he was asked why he didn’t Just Say No. Of course he was.

There is always something obscene about the abuse of power, even if it isn’t sexual. Authoritarians count on their subjects to internalize this obscenity and feel reluctant to comment on it. We sometimes giggle about the violations when we should be shouting. It was easy to joke about similarities before the details emerged: Headlines such as “Comey asked Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump” practically begged for a lighthearted “Same. —Women” response.

But the richness of Comey’s specific recollections should force us to grapple with the dark reality before us: We elected a sexual predator to the highest office in the land, and he is continuing to act like one.

When you’re a star they let you.

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