Jamie Comer’s doppelgänger Skip to content

Jamie Comer’s doppelgänger

Apparently, Jamie Comer is the reincarnation of another First District congressman.

5 min read

The Cambridge University online dictionary defines “doppelgänger” as “a spirit that looks exactly like a living person, or someone who looks exactly like someone else but who is not related to that person.”

If there are political doppelgängers — electeds who think, talk, and act the same — a pair of First District congressmen fill the bill: James Comer and Henry Cornelius Burnett.

Comer, a MAGA Republican, currently holds the seat. It belonged to Burnett, a pro-slavery, white supremacist Democrat turned Southern Rights man, from 1855 to 1861.

Comer’s raison d’etre is impeaching President Joe Biden. Burnett aimed to bring down President Abraham Lincoln.

Reelected in June, 1861, two months after the Civil War began, Burnett wasn’t sure he’d return to “Yankee” Washington. But he promised if he did, “it was his firm determination to arraign the traitor Lincoln at the bar of his country for treason.”

Burnett bloviated that if the Yankees slew him, “he expected that Kentuckians would avenge his death.”

Comer, who chairs the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, “has made it his life’s work to oust Biden, pouring through bank records, taking depositions from know-nothings, subpoenaing family members who probably haven’t seen Uncle Joe in years, all as part of some devious plan to remove the nation’s duly-elected leader from office,” veteran Kentucky journalist Bill Straub wrote in a column posted in the online Northern Kentucky Tribune on Nov. 17. 

“There’s only one thing prohibiting him from fulfilling that dream – the facts. After 11 months of investigations, tall tales, hyperbole, an incredible amount of face time on right-wing television networks, and more fibs than Carter has little liver pills, Comer has failed to prove that Biden has so much as merited a jaywalking ticket, not to mention any high crimes or misdemeanors required by the Constitution."

Straub has been birddogging Comer for months. More on that in a minute.

Meanwhile, in a what’s sauce-for-the-goose-is-sauce-for-the-gander vein, Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz, a member of Comer’s committee, cited a recent Daily Beast story that said “Comer allegedly engaged in some questionable land swaps with his brother, funneling ‘extra money’ to him via a shell company, in the form of a $218,000 payment for a property they’d inherited from their father.”

(Comer is from Tompkinsville, but he has a Frankfort home. Hence, Straub IDs him as “Rep. Jamie Comer, R-WhereverHeHangsHisHatIsHisHome.”)

Comer blew a fuse, yelling “bullshit!” and claiming Moskowitz looked like a Smurf because he was wearing a blue jacket. Murray State University historian Brian Clardy said Comer’s fifth-grade-level taunt was “infantile” and “sophomoric.”

The prof demanded that Comer “apologize to the people of the First Congressional District for being such an obvious jerk.”

Hogs will fly before Comer says he’s sorry. He’s all MAGA, all the time. Besides, the twice-impeached, quadruply-indicted MAGA man himself (who gave a fawning Comer a ride on Air Force One) never apologizes.

Anyway, Comer's bullying and peevishness at the committee meeting prompted the Congressional Integrity Project, a liberal group, to ask the House Ethics Committee to look into whether calling a colleague a “Smurf” and hollering “bullshit” at him  broke any House rules, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The Comer in the 19th century

“The embarrassment our boy Jamie brings to the commonwealth as chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee is unparalleled,” Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer Straub also wrote.

Maybe in this century. But Burnett’s election on the Southern Rights (secessionist) ticket mortified Kentucky’s pro-Union majority. The state’s nine other congressional districts sent Union men to Congress. Most of them won in landslides, or by hefty margins.

Yet Burnett hardly won a mandate from his district, which comprised the state’s 14 westernmost counties. He owed his reelection to a blowout in the Jackson Purchase, the then seven counties sandwiched between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. Beyond the Purchase, he carried only his home county, where he barely beat the Union candidate.

Loyal Kentucky’s lone pariah in DC took his seat. (Both of the Bluegrass State’s senators were Unionists, too.) Not surprisingly, he failed to finagle a treason charge against the president. Burnett opposed, to no avail, every bill to raise troops and appropriate money to quell the Southern rebellion.

The Republican Cincinnati Commercial mocked him as “a big, burly, loud-mouthed fellow who is forever raising points of order and objections, to embarrass the Republicans in the House.” Burly might not describe Comer, but loudmouth lands close to the mark.

Back home on friendly western Kentucky turf, Burnett gave a blood-and-thunder stump speech to Southern sympathizers in which he denounced Kentucky Union men as “Lincoln’s dogs.”

His peroration — especially the canine imagery — caught the attention of the Louisville Journal, the state’s most influential Union newspaper. This Courier-Journal ancestor called Burnett a “Kentucky Thersites.” I had to look up that slur, but it fit. In Greek mythology, Thersites is a crude, querulous, and obscene soldier in the Trojan War.

Hmmm. Crude, querulous, and obscene congressman?

The paper invited Burnett to decamp to the Confederacy where he may “console himself with the reflection that no one can retort by calling him a dog, for he is “A creature / Whom ‘twere base flattery to call a dog.” Likewise, Burnett could “pride himself in the consciousness that although he may wear a dog’s collar, he has brass enough in his impudent forehead to furnish a brace of collars for all the dogs in creation.”

Comer’s 21st-century Nemesis

Straub doesn't need any help in coming up with Comer-castigating prose. His Nov. 17 column was another doozy. He described Comer as “Snuffy Smith in a Wal-Mart suit” and likened him to “an inept jazz musician making it up as he goes along.”

Even so, this Straub fan suggests that some of the Journal’s jabs would work in subsequent Straub shots at the pol he calls “Tail-Gunner Jamie,” a handle inspired by “Tail-Gunner Joe,” the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s moniker.

In a column last summer, Straub introduced his readers to “Rep. Jamie Comer, a walking, talking disgrace of a human being who has fully absorbed the sleazeball spirit of the long-discredited Senator from Wisconsin through his reckless use of lies, hyperbole, and unsubstantiated accusations that are exercising great harm on the nation he is pledged to serve and protect. ... Just call him Tail-Gunner Jamie.”

Straub has been a burr under Comer’s saddle blanket since.

As for Burnett, the House expelled him for treason in December, 1861. His colleagues charged him with being in “open rebellion against the Government of the United States.” (Burnett went to the Confederate congress at Richmond, Va., and represented Kentucky’s fraudulent Confederate state “government” in the Confederate senate.)

Comer is in open rebellion against decorum, decency, and the democratic process. Tail-Gunner Jamie is as reckless and shameless as Tail-Gunner Joe, and deserves a new moniker: the “Kentucky Thersites.”



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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

Arlington, KY



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