• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On The Whistleblower

September 2019

The calls for the open identification of the “whistleblower”—the woman, though more likely the man, from whose faceless mouth the first ineluctable syllables of “impeachment” will forever be known to have been heard—are yet to have been made. Anonymity, so essential an attribute for the impartial arbiter of crimes (as supposedly is, in the absence of any further characterization of him, the whistleblower to whom my introduction is devoted above), whose compulsion it is not to aggrandize, nor to flaunt, nor even to forward himself in the eyes of the superiors to whom his ground-breaking message is sent, but to call out evils against all odds, is a rather transitory thing. His privacy, much less the presumption of his impartiality, won’t long be preserved. Regardless of the desperate attempts he might make to retain them (and thus, some semblance of the normal life he once lived) both inevitably will vanish before his eyes. This will happen as he comes more sharply into our focused view. He himself will become ineffaceable, his name monumental, his import incapable of understatement to the later generations to whom this age’s study will be a fascination. For all of subsequent history, from now until then, he will be known and his countenance seen.

At this point, however, the fact that we know and see him not will be, if my (in)-fallible foresight serves me well, only a temporary mystery. It’s a darkness through whose fibers we can’t yet see, but surely soon will. That said, this will prove a mercifully short-lasting net in which we’ve been caught, if only for a week’s time. We’ll soon shake it off and we’ll soon be disentangled of its confusion and skeptical weight.

This whistleblower’s identity, currently unknown to all but himself, will be a fog from which we’ll all emerge in this ever-public age. His concealment is a conceit of which he’ll soon be disabused. It’s been rumored that he would prefer not to testify publicly. This won’t do. He will, and all will judge him—half with disgust and the other with veneration. He’ll be the subject of a very public and tempestuous exposure. He’ll be a lightning rod around which the storms of impeachment will electrify the nation and possibly burn his own person to a crisp. He’ll step forth into a world of illumination tinged with suspicions—for what would we be if not insatiably inquisitive about his motives and his ulterior aims? This new realm of clarity will be clouded, as always it is, with the thunderous rumblings of curiosity from whose voicings we’ll divine messages of partisanship, deliberate hit-jobs, and deep-state animosities that run deep.

The whistleblower, the man upon whose breathless torso responsibility for the opening of the freshly-announced impeachment proceedings now rests, will be identified and he’ll be known. In fact, almost as though it were monitoring and anticipating my production of these last three paragraphs, the New York Times has released a tantalizingly reticent profile of the man (yes—the New York Times attributes to this person’s chromosomal inheritance the letters of X and of Y; he is a he, and my presumption of pronouns is deemed valid).

Apparently, as the Times made public just a few minutes ago, the man is in the employment of the C.I.A—a relatively secular and hopefully disinterested organization outside the bickering and the infighting of our exceedingly politicized state. Not surprisingly, his detail was the White House, the building at whose center we feel raging the king of media and the leader of this land.

Being that this C.I.A. agent serves in that noble and parlous capacity at the center of the world, one can believe that there were many disquieting revelations to which he was daily exposed. One can only imagine the threats and concerns by which he, and all similarly stationed like him, were burdened from one moment to the next. Thus, a heightened sensitivity to danger and a subtle perception to anything untoward were occupational requirements of this man. The performance of his job from one day to the next required of him his ability to employ these unenviably anxiogenic skills.

And so, unceasingly attentive to his government’s goings-on, he was, at the reception of a startling piece of information about President Trump, disquieted. That’s to say the very least. At the very most, he was incited to act and that’s exactly what he did. He accumulated from the colleagues with whom he worked a story whose recognizable plotline told of the indecencies and perhaps even the illegalities of President Trump’s behavior. These alleged improprieties occurred during a phone call, now infamously transcribed, between Trump and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Formerly a lawyer, actor, television writer, producer, populist, and political satirist, the youthful Zelensky has made concrete his transition from comedy to history because of this one, thirty-minute-long telephone call with Trump. Few calls, throughout the voluble history of that instrument first developed by Graham Bell, have been so conducive to controversy and so resonant through time.

The text of the call makes for a circuitous and somewhat inarticulate read. One can only hope that the live performance was better. We acknowledge this point with sadness; what more might be expected of a president who’s proven himself disdainful of the sequence, much less the eloquence of his words? Syntax and grammar are plagues to which he’s immune. Likewise, what sonority and effect might be expected of a man of Zelensky’s station to whom this language is a completely foreign tongue? Yet we find ourselves combing interminably the sands of this dialogue’s inaudible contents for what we hope to be a felonious gem. Something dastardly must dazzle in it, or else all is for naught. Perhaps something does and it glisters before our eyes.

Its entrée, however, is not where that elusive jewel rests. In its entirety, this preamble to the conversation, this inducement to the courtship of two presidents, if you will, is rather unprepossessing—pure sycophancy in word and thought. It’s perhaps more nauseating to have read than to have heard it, and for this, we’ll give the men between whom this conversation existed in real-time our consideration, perhaps even our leniency. Though it induces a cringe to see it written down in plain English, this type of unctuous language is necessary to whet the appetite of a man, such as Trump, wholly consumed with himself.

Zelensky, from the start, endeavored to shower with praise his famously winnable interlocutor’s affections. The former, though politically tender in the youthfulness of his age and the lack of his experience in the art of statecraft, knew the quickest route to Trump’s heart and, by extension, to America’s purse—the more lucrative of the two possible prizes.

Bludgeoned with blandishments, Trump seemed not to have been on the same page as was Zelensky. This, to the perception of any disinterested eye, was made clear enought throughout the conversation and is worthy of note. As is customary in that eastern-European or western-oriental state, politics is a sordid business. It’s an aggressive, handsy dance that often ends with a shakedown or a tit-for-tat. Machinations and political favors are the rule.

Earnest clarity, scrupulosity, and general uprightness assume the uncomfortable role of exception. A creature who’s statesmanship and conduct were determined many centuries ago by the tumultuous political climate out of which he emerged, Zelensky seemed to be the one probing and prying for a potential quid pro quo. Unwittingly, the thrust of his purpose appeared to dodge the receptivity and the negotiating brilliance of President Trump (a brilliance, one might add, of whose manifest existence we’ve been assured countless times). Either way, the idea that Trump explicitly solicited Zelensky to interfere in American politics is inconclusive. Testimony of a supplementary kind will be required to get to the end of this tale.

But what of our gallant whistleblower’s identity? This, after all, is the question with which I began my thought and the musing, at article’s end, to which I must return. I’ll have to defer, despite my temptations further to explore this historic phone call, to those more legally-inspired for a longer exegesis of Trump and Zelensky’s call. In comparison with them, I have no acumen, only humble conjecture by which to be guided.

What, then, will become of our man? while I’d prefer his identity remain concealed—for what is a whistleblower if not for his mask?—his identity will be exposed, and it will be done so in the coming days. Of this I’m sure. In so incendiary and divisive a country as is ours, he’ll become in a moment’s time one of two things: a great hero or an unforgivable demon. To the one side, specifically that of the Left, he’ll be the insuperable guardian, the doughty cherub standing at Eden’s gates. With flaming sword in hand, he’ll drive back all of those enemies who seek to invade his holy land. He’ll stand athwart all the subversive powers that may be, protecting in the process the sanctity of our government, the beauty of our nation, the respect for our laws and everything for which they stand. If, however, your view of him is less genial and you see him not as an intrepid defender of this country but as an insolent foe from within, you’ll think of him quite differently. He’ll be the luciferous serpent who quietly destroyed all that existed before. He’ll be the treasonous snake upon whom doubt and reproach will forever be cast, the man responsible for bringing down prematurely this president’s tenure and this Republican’s reign.

In my own, albeit early judgment of him, I remember the words of Plato. In his voluminous work aptly entitled Laws, he says the following:

“A man who commits no crime is to be honored; yet the man who will not even allow the wicked to do wrong deserves more than twice as much respect. The former has the value of a single individual, but the latter, who reveals the wickedness of another to the authorities, is worth a legion. Anyone who makes every effort to assist the authorities in checking crime should be declared to be the great and perfect citizen of his state, winner of the prize for virtue”.

We have, it seems, our virtuous prize-winner, our man worthy of a legion and of our love. We shall, at any moment, add to his approbation by knowing his name. The faceless whistleblower will be given a face, and America will be made to reflect upon herself.

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