I have managed to not get too caught up in the recent American political melodrama. As a result, I decided I wouldn’t bother reading fired FBI director James Comey’s autobiography, A Higher Loyalty, which was published a few weeks ago.
That changed when the book I wanted wasn’t available at the library – and Comey’s was. I figured it was okay to at least look.
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein had one of his characters (in which book I don’t remember now) give some thoughts of the nature of autobiography. If my memory is working well today (which I can’t guarantee) it was something to the effect that autobiography is always truthful but rarely historically accurate. Those writing it sincerely believe the veracity of what they are saying. History may tell another story.
Donald Trump I am sure would disagree with Corey’s recollection of their meetings. And ihis analysis of the president. Trump comes across as a small man who doesn’t understand the presidency. As an outsider, that seems pretty accurate to me.
Comey’s battle with Trump has been widely documented, and there really isn’t anything new here. What for me was revealing was the backstory, Comey’s career successes and failures and how they brought him to the leadership of the FBI. It may all have been publicly available information, but I didn’t care enough to look at it when Comey and Trump were in the news together.
After having heard his explanation of his dealing with the allegations against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 American presidential election campaign, I still think Comey made the wrong choice. He does acknowledge that a different FBI director might have handled the situation in another way, though he stands by the decisions he made. I respect that even as I disagree with his actions.
This book does show a man of ethics and morals who has thought about what it is to be a leader and what it takes to be a good leader. Reading it, I had to wonder why James Comey was not a presidential candidate instead of Donald Trump. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is already a draft Comey campaign underway in the US. He comes across (and admittedly this is autobiography) as a person others are pleased to follow.
What I did find strange was the lack of epistemology. Jim Comey comes across as a decent human being, a compassionate boss, a strong leader, a good husband and father – but I don’t know really why he is those. Was he just raised with a certain ethical example, was it a worldview drummed into him in the classroom, or is there some deep religious faith at the core of his being?
Faith doesn’t really play a part in this memoir, though we do learn in passing that his wife attends church. No mention if he does. He also paraphrases Scripture a few times without giving references, but that is about it.
I suppose he could just be a good person, as unlikely as it is to find such a creature. I wonder though if instead there was a conscious decision to remove any evidence of religious faith so that the message wouldn’t be colored by sectarianism.
I suppose I could find out if I did some research. I’m going to delegate that to you though, my bus ride is almost over (I’m writing this on the way to class).
If you want a picture of what public service is supposed to be, A Higher Loyalty provides a fine example.