A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I didn’t intend to this buy this book, but all of a sudden, I wanted to read it. Maybe because I felt sorry for Comey. I know, he gets fired but a book deal, and I feel sorry for him. But while I wasn’t happy with his announcements about Clinton’s emails during the election cycle, I also felt he was caught between two options, neither of which was good. While the announcements undoubtedly had an effect, he wasn’t the cause of the loss, especially when looking at the sexist treatment of her in the news. I didn’t vote for Trump, and I am a registered independent. And, yes, I voted for Clinton and walked in my local Women’s March (as did Comey’s wife and daughters).
In terms of writing, Comey’s book isn’t bad. It isn’t great, but the tone is easy and he doesn’t make you want to run screaming for the hills or throw it up against a wall. He uses “a lot” a bit too much for my taste. There are some flashes of humor. He is fair towards Clinton, admitting that of the people he chronicles in the book, she is the one he never met, and she has/had good reason to avoid meeting him.
But you don’t want to hear about that do you?
There isn’t much about Comey’s private life here, though it is quite clear he deeply loves and admires his wife, he also loves his children (and in fact, he and his wife lost a child). He details some of his time before working for the Bush and Obama administration. The focus is on his service, in varying functions, for three presidents.
What is clear is that of the three presidents Comey served, Trump is by far the worse and in Comey’s (and my) view unfit for office. Bush, he respects but sees as flawed in some areas. Comey really admires Obama, though he does offer one critique, and holds Obama up as the ideal leader because of his ability to listen, truly listen, his principles, and his courtesy.
Trump doesn’t have anyone of that, and Bush’s humor was a bit crueller than Obama’s. Much has been made about Comey’s remarks about Trump, but it should be noted that the Bush administration, not necessarily Bush himself but those under him, don’t look to good.
It’s true that Comey does comment on Trump’s tie and hands, and this does cheapen Comey somewhat, though you can understand the desire to sling back. It should be noted that Comey does debunk the Trump ice cream charge. The hand aside, Comey’s case against Trump is pretty damning.
But for me the best part of the book, the most important, and the part that should get far more attention is Comey’s discussion of his time at the FBI during the protests in Fergusson and the killings of young African American men. Part of this discussion includes the story of a conversation he had with Obama which focus on perspective and how that influences the meaning of language. The book is worth the cost simply for this chapter where two difference people from two different backgrounds actually talk and listen to each other – becoming wiser in the process. We need more leaders like that, especially when it comes to dealing with race. This conversation is not something we are going to get with the current president, especially since of this writing Orange Man has yet to twitter the name James Shaw Jr, a young man who believes that he is not a hero simply because he was trying to save himself when he also saved others. Considering that Mr. Shaw is black and the killer was white, we pretty much have Trump’s view on race right there, don’t we?
What is interesting, and a comment on gender in politics in particular and society in gender, is he comments on the behavior of Lynch and Yates during the Clinton email issue during the campaign. He knows that the women are honorable and doesn’t think they were doing anything wrong or shady. He respects both women. Yet, he notes that he didn’t/doesn’t understand some of the choices and wording that they used during the camping/Clinton email. He also makes the same observation about Obama. Perhaps his confusion is because Yates, Lynch, and Obama knew how the press would play the story simply because of Clinton being female.
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