James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty is compelling — and a little disingenuous: EW review

It is extraordinary that the man who served as FBI director less than a year ago has written a memoir assailing the U.S. president as “untethered to truth.” It’s equally extraordinary that the president’s official (Twitter-based) response has been to dub the former FBI director a “slimeball.” This is not, goes the Trump Era motto, “normal.” Yet with each successive Twitter outburst from @POTUS, it feels increasingly so.

In A Higher Loyalty, James Comey seeks to remind us of the abnormal — of what cannot and should not be tolerated. He’s been battered by both sides of the political aisle since the 2016 election, having both inflamed the Hillary Clinton email scandal and described Trump’s conduct in ways that sparked allegations of obstruction of justice. (Trump fired him in May; Comey revealed soon after that he kept damning memos of their private conversations.) It’s reasonable to suspect that Comey hopes to regain some fans by telling his side of the story.

Loyalty traces Comey’s attraction to moral leadership. The juiciest (read: Trump-related) sections only take up the final third of the book, as Comey first goes to great lengths to recount his past, particularly detailing his work in the Bush II and Obama administrations. He demonstrates wit and humility in his anecdotes; later, he conveys urgency in his ruminations on this moment in time, and he’s not afraid to express reluctance and uncertainty.

This is not the dry law enforcement memoir that such a linear structure would typically beget. Instead, it’s cunningly calculated. Both explicitly and subtly, Comey draws himself as Trump’s polar opposite. His profound regret over fabricating a college basketball career is comically minor in comparison to our “unethical” president’s lies. His corny jokes, peppered throughout, amplify the alarming detail that he’s never seen Trump laugh—“ever.” His agony over how best to serve the country, through decades of hard work, contrasts with Trump’s reckless, selfish bluster.

The good-faith reading of all this is the version Comey himself is selling, most recently on ABC’s 20/20 with George Stephanopoulos: that Trump is not normal, not “morally fit,” not worthy of the same respect and admiration as George W. Bush or Barack Obama — or James Comey. Indeed, Comey is on a bit of a redemption tour here, a reclaiming of his legacy. He pores over each of his most controversial decisions — such as deciding to publicly reveal, days before the …read more

Source:: Entertainment Weekly


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