This criticism has been made often on the right but rarely (ever?) to Comey’s face. The guy all but endorsed the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, sight unseen, in his Stephanopoulos interview three days ago. It’s not about politics, says Comey in reply to McCain’s criticism in the clip below, it’s about values. But he’s presented his values as a political choice, calling for Trump to be voted out and lambasting the GOP as a value-less party without regard to the foibles of the other party or its eventual nominee. That’s tough to digest for the many millions of Republican voters who viewed their vote in 2016 as a hard choice between two, shall we say, problematic candidates.
At one point during the interview he agreed that in hindsight he should have left out the descriptions of Trump’s appearance since that’s become a distraction from the book’s message. But I wonder if he should have left out the lectures about norms and values too, given how inevitably they would be politicized, and just written a straightforward “here’s what happened, here was my thinking” account of 2016-17. I know what Comey would say to that: If stating that Trump has little regard for the rule of law is “politicized” because one party can’t bear to face the truth, it’s the party that has a problem, not him. Fair enough, but negative partisanship is what it is. If you’re going to inveigh against Trump and reminisce about getting teary in front of Obama, part of your prospective readership will suspect a partisan agenda and discount your critique, never mind Comey’s role in having sunk Hillary’s candidacy just before election day. Comey constantly emits a sense of bewilderment that his earnestness in all things isn’t taken at face value. McCain’s trying to tell him why.
So no, there probably won’t be much of a right-wing audience for his book. Will there be a left-wing audience? There’ll be a media audience, certainly:
DC’s book nerds didn’t turn up for James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty.” At least not in the masses booksellers might have expected.
At around midnight at Kramerbooks on Monday, the bookstore on DC’s Dupont Circle was mostly filled with reporters carrying cameras and notepads…
Another journalist asked the room: “Is anyone a normal person or is everyone a journalist?”
Only one person — reluctantly — identified himself as a “normal person.”
Sounds like a blockbuster in the making. As for “The View,” let me make one gentle correction to McCain, who scolded Comey at one point for details he included in the book by saying, “I think maybe J. Edgar Hoover is rolling over in his grave at the things you’re revealing.” In any discussion about ethics, J. Edgar Hoover is the wrong benchmark to use. (Whoopi Goldberg noted that herself in an aside.) In a contest of ethics between Hoover and Comey, take Comey every time. In fact, in a contest of ethics between Hoover and *Trump*, take Trump every time. That’s how bad Hoover is. He did more from his FBI perch to subvert the norms Comey likes to chatter about than Trump will end up doing as president, I’d wager. And there’s a good reason he never wrote a tell-all: He didn’t need to. Fifty years of presidents were afraid to fire him because he had dirt on all of them, he would have used it, and they knew it. He was the “deep state” personified. Not a comparison that’s will, or should, shame Comey.
Here he is agreeing that he probably should have scrapped the bits in the book about Trump’s hair and hands, since everyone seems to have misread his intentions — again. (Why does that keep happening to him?!) Exit question: What did Trump mean this morning when he tweeted that Comey wasn’t fired because of the Russia investigation? We’re not back to pretending that POTUS was steamed at him for breaking with FBI protocol in sending the fateful Emailgate letter in late October 2016, are we?