Can We All Agree That James Comey Is An Asshole?

Some pundits have remarked slyly on how telling it is that James Comey was initially embraced by Democrats and denounced by Republicans (when he let Hillary 'off the hook'), then embraced by Republicans and denounced by Democrats (when he re-opened the investigation with the infamous October letter), then embraced by Democrats and denounced by Republicans (when he was fired) -- and on and on the cycle goes. As for me, myself, personally: I have thought from the beginning that James Comey was out to protect his own ego and reputation before anything else. In the beginning, I thought he at least also cared deeply about the defense and integrity of his organization, the FBI, and while that is not simply false -- he cares about it -- my sense that is that his ego is his first and primary motivation, and this conviction has only grown. Let Republicans, Democrats, and independents rise up across the land and say it: former FBI Director James Comey is, as the president said, Mr. Showboat, a narcissistic  flaming egotist and a grade-A, certifiable asshole.

Even his book title is self-congratulatory: "A Higher Loyalty" -- unlike Hillary, who wants to say "What Happened", unlike a George W. Bush, who wants to explain his "Decision Points", unlike Condi Rice" who says serving was "No Higher Honor" -- Comey wants to pat himself on the back for how his sense of loyalty is above and beyond what we mere mortals can embody. When he broke all of precedent while pretending to do otherwise, grandstanding and putting on a grandiose display of political theater in July 2016, explaining why he was not bringing charges against a person he claimed was innocent while venting his private frustrations with her behaviors, he was not serving a 'higher honor' -- he was keeping himself from looking like he was politically compromised. He was reading a private op-ed from his mind in front of the nation with the full weight of the title of the head of the FBI behind him. Instead of just doing his job and taking the hits as they came to him, holding strong like a real public servant, he felt like he had to go out of his way to intervene in the election and make himself the center of attention and the arbiter of justice. He thought others were compromised, of course -- never did he stop ask to think if he was compromised in some way by his ego. He has a higher loyalty than the mere law, you see.

Then in October 2016, he released his infamous letter re-opening the investigation into Hillary's server -- which we later found out revealed no new information and did not produce any evidence leading to any charges. Yet, eleven days before the election, he thought he would be doing the country a favor by reviving a dead issue and making Hillary's server the center of attention once again -- with more questions than answers -- after some people had already voted, and right before many more were about to vote. What was the 'higher loyalty' he was serving other than to cover his ass from later accusations that he might have been playing favorites by withholding information at the time of the election? It is easy to imagine him being accused by Republicans of playing favorites for Hillary by not announcing the discovery of e-mails on Anthony Weiner's computer at that time -- but his job required him to go through the protocols as normal; nothing required him to send that letter to Congress. And it turned out the investigation turned up nothing new of interest. If he had simply done his job and reported the facts as they came out, then he would have never needed to intervene. But he was more worried about his reputation than about the law.

When Donald Trump fired Comey on the advice of Jared Kushner, he ordered deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to write a memo justifying Comey's being fired on the basis of his poor handling of the Clinton case -- which was in fact an excellent justification, and the memo itself outlined the grievances against Comey and the litany of his bad behaviors better than Clinton herself could have. But since the obvious, true reason for his firing was to try to blunt the Russia investigation, Democrats started defending him again. They should not have. Trump was right: Comey is a 'showboat', looking out only for himself. When he was fired, I predicted immediately he'd sign a giant book deal and go on a tour gloating about what a great person he is. I was right. 

Without James Comey's grandstanding, the state of the country would be very different today. We expect that top politicians and bueaucrats will have egos, but this kind of mammoth grandstanding on the part of an FBI director is like nothing we've seen since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. When Trump fired Comey, he apparently found out by seeing the news on CNN. That makes me feel good inside. I feel nothing but schadenfreude toward this joker -- he tried to cover his own ass, but in the process, he ended up making enemies of everyone. Hillary supporters hate him. Trump supporters hate him. Both parties hate him. The news media likes him only because it thinks he might have dirt, and then they will be done with him. History should remember him exactly as Trump described him: Mr. Showboat. As a country, let us all agree that this man is a grade-A, certifiable asshole, and ignore his book to the greatest extent we possibly can.

Alex Knepper