Comey: I'm not trying to make fun of Trump by talking about his peculiar coiffure and zesty orange hue

The tragedy of James Comey, apparently, is having his virtuous intentions misunderstood constantly. By everyone.

NPR asked him about it too today, the first full day of his book-promoting media tour. Au contraire, said the hulking former FBI director when asked why he thought to describe Trump’s hands as small. I never said they were small. I merely said they were smaller than mine:

“I’m not making fun of the president. I’m trying to be an author, which I’ve never been before in my life,” Comey says. “While I’m typing, I can hear my editor’s voice ringing in my head, ‘bring the reader with you. Show them inside your head. Bring them with you.’ ”

“‘Describe the president’s hands?’ ” NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep responded. “Can you hear the editor saying that?”

“No, but that was on my mind,” Comey says. “And by the way, not that this matters, but I found his hands to be above average in size, and so I’m not making fun of the man, I’m trying to tell the reader what’s in my head.”

The best reason to believe that Comey didn’t intend to snipe at Trump with descriptions of his hands, hair, and tanning-goggle white spots under his eyes is that those passages have figured in a surprising amount of media coverage of the book so far. It wasn’t just Stephanopoulos and NPR quizzing him about it. As noted last night, even anti-Trumpers who’d otherwise normally strain to side with Comey against Trump are put off by it. The NYT devoted an entire story today to the topic of Comey getting down in the mud with Trump:

The personal potshots in particular have surprised some former colleagues who thought of Mr. Comey as relatively sober and serious. Observers on both the left and right — including many who count themselves as fierce critics of Mr. Trump’s — say that in embarking on his star turn, Mr. Comey may be undercutting his own indictment of the president’s character and conduct.

“The real impact of having the former head of the F.B.I. calling the president unfit is dependent on the just-the-facts professional image of the F.B.I.,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “To the extent that the former director appears petty and anything less than high-minded, it diminishes the impact of his critique.”…

“After he was fired, he finally became the martyr he always held himself out to be,” said Matthew A. Miller, who served as a top Justice Department official under President Obama when Mr. Comey led the F.B.I. “By doing a tour like this where you kind of get down in the gutter the way he has, you sacrifice your claim on being a martyr.”

All the guy wanted to do was spend a breezy few months lecturing Americans about “norms.” Now he’s getting asked about Trump’s hand size regularly. He’d better come up with something better than “I was just trying to be a writer” or whatever. When in doubt, self-deprecation usually works. He should start referring to himself as a “big gangly goon, all arms and legs.” If nothing else, that would lighten up the lecture a little.

Here’s another bit from the ABC interview this morning in which he scolds Trump for calling publicly for him to go to jail, saying that’s “not acceptable in this country.” Maybe not in the old America, buddy. If you want to make America great again, the law-enforcer-in-chief has to be able to settle scores by publicly accusing someone of a crime who hasn’t been charged.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023