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7 Feb, 2020 20:31

Theatrical play based on Strzok/Page texts staged at CPAC gives Dems’ Mueller-mania a run for its money

Theatrical play based on Strzok/Page texts staged at CPAC gives Dems’ Mueller-mania a run for its money

A major DC Republican gathering will host a play based on the intimate texts of FBI agent/Trump nemesis Peter Strzok and his lawyer paramour, proving it isn’t just Democrats who have elevated political grudges to a (sick) art.

‘FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers’ will be staged at the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing gathering that will bring some 10,000 guests together at the end of February, an organizer for the conference confirmed to the Hill on Friday. While the average person outside the Beltway may have completely forgotten who Strzok and his lawyer lady love Lisa Page are – minor players in the Russiagate saga whose bravura pillow talk about saving the world from Trump briefly put them in the spotlight – they remain towering presences in the minds of many in the GOP. For a certain breed of politico, obsessively fixating on the objects of one’s revenge fantasies is as American as apple pie.

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Strzok will go down in DC lore for reassuring his girlfriend (in text messages leaked by his jilted wife) while working on the Russiagate probe that the FBI had an “insurance plan” to keep Trump out of office. Trump emerged unsullied by evidence of the “Russian collusion” his enemies were determined to pin on him, but the adulterous couple’s “treason” remained a malevolent presence in his speeches. Epitomizing the institutional bias of the “witch hunt” against him, the so-called “FBI lovebirds” have become larger-than-life characters animated by the president’s grudge – and proof to his supporters that the ‘Deep State’ has had it in for him from day one. That there is more than a bit of truth to that scenario is beside the point; long after everyone else has forgotten the hubris-addled pair, the president’s supporters continue to wallow in their correspondence.

‘FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers’ has been performed exactly once, last June. While death threats allegedly forced a last-minute move of theater, playwright Phelim McAleer nevertheless raised over $111,000 with a crowdfunding campaign, proving there is a very small but very dedicated population eager to see their political enemies’ hot-and-heavy text messages publicly pilloried. Even the actors are proud ‘out’ Trump-supporters: Dean Cain, who played Superman in the 1990s TV series ‘Lois & Clark’, and Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Starring in such a production would likely be a career-ending move for anyone else.

This obsessive “never forgive, never forget” tendency to dwell on the minutiae of one’s grievances isn’t limited to the Republican Party, of course. The Democrats pulled their own ‘FBI Lovebirds’ on a much grander scale with multiple public ‘performances’ of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Even in the absence of the promised “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Russiagate truthers were able to convince themselves there was enough incriminating evidence against the president that it was worth reading, in public, more than once.

Like the ‘Lovebirds’ play, the dramatization of the Mueller report involved drafting in Hollywood to serve its demented cause. Whether in a slickly-produced made-for-social-media video featuring famous faces regurgitating the same limp “bombshells” that had been featured nonstop in the media for months or in an actual staged performance featuring A-listers attempting to bring life to the special counsel’s leaden prose, stars stricken with the Beltway bug were only too happy to help.

Even the decision to haul Mueller into Congress to testify about the report was a performance in itself, as one Democratic aide admitted to Politico in advance of the July hearing. “Not everybody is reading the book, but people will watch the movie,” he said. It’s not clear if anybody did, but no amount of public readings could stop the slide of CNN and MSNBC ratings. Once it was clear the president wasn't going anywhere, the public wasn’t sticking around for endless mastication of Trump-Russia minutiae.

It goes without saying that each “side” finds the other’s dwelling on its unsavory underbelly beyond the pale. ‘FBI Lovebirds’ has elicited a storm of partisan rancor just as the liberal cult of Mueller pawing through the Trump administration’s (metaphorical) trash cans was denounced as dead-horse-beating on the right. One might think the business of governing a large and complex country beset with a wide array of economic and geopolitical problems would eat up too much time for Washington habitués to cultivate veritable gardens of elaborate revenge fantasies and prodigious grudges, but that would be misjudging their priorities.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.