I hope partisans on both sides will set aside their “Comey rage” – I’m still fuming too – and take the time to read his well-thought-out bio, “A Higher Loyalty.” It’s clear, honest, reflective, and written with a citizen’s heart. He’s a good writer, and the man obviously kept detailed notes. If you’re still on the fence regarding “Okay, who’s lying here,” I got to the finish of his testimony and feel assured that: a) he’s telling the truth, and b) he labored earnestly to make the best decisions possible during impossible moments.
Comey writes with passion about the FBI and its reputation, an agency “with no party.” As director, he cared about keeping its reservoir of goodwill brimming full. When it came to the Clinton email investigation, he made two wrenching decisions which very likely caused the election of Mr. Trump – as he realized it might. Along with millions of voters who supported the Democratic ticket, I was sorely frustrated both times. But it is helpful to read his explanation, and to come to understand that the FBI had two awful choices: Speak? Conceal? If the agency had held back, and then after the election it had leaked that the FBI had quietly resurrected its investigation just two weeks before voters went to the polls, Comey’s diagnosis is likely correct: “The reservoir would be empty.”
I’m still exasperated by what happened. But I concede now that when a patriotic American citizen who leads such an agency sit around a table with solid advisors, lots of them, and they wrestle for hours and days about the best course to take, pros and cons, playing out the various scenarios, and then finally make a gutsy call, then commoners like me need to stand down. Things went south; it was a mess. They were picking from two lousy, near-fatal options. But Jim Comey does tell the truth and he does love his country.
Just from a “color” point of view, I’ll observe that the book is professionally written with a mostly cheerful flow. There are nice bits of humor. Be advised that he’s a street-smart FBI guy; some of the language is salty, although not prurient or gratuitous.
I’ll let the author provide the close in his own words.
“Policies come and go. Supreme Court justices come and go. But the core of our nation is our commitment to a set of shared values that began with George Washington – to restraint and integrity and balance and transparency and truth. If that slides away from us, only a fool would be consoled by a tax cut or a different immigration policy.
“But I choose to be optimistic. Yes, the current president will do significant damage in the short term. Important norms and traditions will be damaged by the flames. But forest fires, as painful as they can be, bring growth. They spur growth that was impossible before the fire, when old trees crowded out new plants on the forest floor. In the midst of this fire, I already see new life – young people engaged as never before, and the media, the courts, academics, nonprofits, and all other parts of civil society finding reason to bloom.
“The next president, no matter the party, will surely emphasize values – truth, integrity, respect, and tolerance – in ways an American leader hasn’t needed to for more than forty years. The fire will make something good grow.”