Saturday, April 21, 2018

Review of James Comey's A Higher Loyalty

I read James Comey's A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership (2018) and if you're looking for new details, you won't find them there. And in fact it's not the point of the book at all. Instead, it's an examination of leadership, where naturally Donald Trump falls quite obviously and publicly short.

It is a very human book, with Comey talking about his background (with some harrowing personal details I did not know about, such as being threatened by a serial rapist and the death of his infant son) and trying to explain how he developed his style of leadership based on people who had been leaders for him when he was young, especially the manager of the grocery store where he worked as a teenager. I liked these parts, as they seemed genuine (he takes pains to show his own doubts and imperfections) and smart.

Then of course there are the decisions he made about Hillary Clinton's emails. He talks about all the different ways a reasonable person could have addressed the new group of emails that came from Anthony Weiner's computer right before the 2016 election (and frankly, all I could think of as I did at the time was how disgusting it was that an asshole like Wiener could have affected an election). Comey doesn't ask you to agree--he just asks you to think about all the possible and very limited alternatives.

Lastly, there is Trump himself. He is everything we already know. Self-serving, narcissistic, and most importantly insecure. He cannot handle the truth, so to speak, and Comey compares him to the mafia bosses he investigated and prosecuted early in his career in New York. Trump needs personal loyalty and lackeys since he is too insecure or emotionally immature to handle push back or contradiction. Comey's whole point is that the truth is our higher loyalty, and it is something Donald Trump consciously rejects.

Update 4/23/18: An interesting take on the book by a top Hillary Clinton aide.


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