Twitter groaned Monday when journalist Marin Cogan tweeted out her discovery that Shaw’s Tavern, a bar and restaurant on Florida Ave., Northwest, would be opening early this Thursday so it could screen former FBI Director James Comey‘s appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The responses in the first few minutes ranged from nerdy endorsement to burn-“This Town”-down cynicism.
This makes me miss living in DC. https://t.co/HLEfrloGDq
— Sarah Lerner (@SarahLerner) June 5, 2017
Only in DC will a bar open early, tune all TV's to C-SPAN, and host a committee hearing party … https://t.co/YlnjqPgbP8
— Richard Madan (@RichardMadan) June 6, 2017
What makes this brilliant is that the bar can sell its sandwiches to the 37 journalists who come to cover the two people who show up: https://t.co/xdid0pxytu
— Yoni Appelbaum (@YAppelbaum) June 5, 2017
this *#%+=%~ town https://t.co/n2QesAWHrN
— Andrew Giambrone (@AndrewGiambrone) June 5, 2017
But Shaw’s Tavern’s nod to DC’s eternal nerdiness is no one-off. At least two other bars plan to open their doors early Thursday for people who want to pound an IPA at 10:30 AM while crafting pithy tweets about congressional testimony they could just as easily monitor in a browser tab. Duffy’s, a pub off U Street known more for its wings and gatherings of Green Bay Packers fans, is also getting in on the action, showing the hearing on the 15 screens arrayed across its dining room and patio. There will even be a special “covfefe” cocktail, a nod to a week-old presidential typo.
The Partisan, in Penn Quarter, will open at 10 AM and flip its two televisions to the hearing while it serves breakfast sandwiches from the adjoining Red Apron Butchery and its own cocktail specials (neither of which are named after “covfefe”).
To be fair, this is a long-awaited hearing that will mark Comey’s first public statements since he was tossed by President Trump, reportedly because Comey refused to drop the bureaus’s ongoing investigation into the Russian government’s meddling in last year’s election. But for a bar to open up and flip on CNN or MSNBC or one of the broadcast networks and show a congressional hearing? Could DC parody itself anymore? Washington is reliably dorky enough that there are always bar specials organized around presidential debates and elections. But those are global events with four years of build-up (and drinking games!), not a midday Senate hearing full of legislative minutiae and wonky talk.
But restaurant specials built around the Comey hearing seem like a result of more than just a general sense of wonkiness. DC’s Trump-induced apoplexy could be playing a role, too. In a city where only 4 percent of voters actually wanted this guy, cashing in on the other 96 percent’s enduring anger is a safe bet. And why not? DC’s loathing for Trump is so palpable, any moment that presents a chance to thrash his dysfunctional presidency even more feels like cause for Washingtonians to pausing their workdays and anticipate the killing stroke that’ll take his administration down.
Except it doesn’t work like that. Investigations into shady presidential activities can take years. The special investigation led by former FBI Director (and Comey BFF) Robert Mueller is still gearing up. And a quintessential lawman like Comey might be more likely to demur to the investigative process than offer a smoking gun when he’s questioned by senators on Thursday.
So whether you watch at work or sneak off to the bar on Thursday, watch Comey with frustration toward Trump but caution that this is just one more station on a long slog that may or may not yield your desired result. But if you’re drinking, please be advised not to build a drinking game around every time Comey says he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, or you’ll be passed out on the floor by 10:30.