As the year rages on we all continue to watch the rocky voyage that is the Trump administration with an unending range of emotions, particularly those of us who would not mind seeing the administration reach an abrupt terminus. Frankly, it is exhausting, and at times hard to keep up with. Along with these feelings is an odd list of names that we know have some dealings with the administration. James Comey is one such name that, even if we don’t know exactly who he was, we run out and buy the book because we hope to be enlightened about the current political situation.
This book, almost more than any other, makes it very hard to divide the politics from the substance. Largely, the politics is the substance in a more tangible way than most. There will certainly be a reading of this book wherein the reader will come away feeling like this is little more than an apologia for a firing. I felt that way fairly often reading it myself, despite my political allegiances.
The book is not exactly what everyone was hoping it would be. It is not anything that immediately condemns the president of any wrong doing. Were it, it would be evidence in a court and not a book on the shelf. Instead, the book is the biographical foundations for Mr. Comey’s principals, as well as his illustrating how he remained loyal to those principle’s throughout his political career.
But we would all be lying if we didn’t say that we understood why those principles are so important as to merit their own book, or for that matter why any given reader should care about Comey’s principles at all. Those parts of the book that deal with Comey’s previous experience under different administrations always seem to be delivered with a wink and a nod to the audience, signifying that we know who these examples are meant to be contrasted to. Towards the end of the book, when Comey is recounting his tennure under the Trump administration, the winks and nods stop altogether, as by that point he becomes very clear about how strange many of the things he witnessed were. There are also a few moments (those giving an explanation about Comey’s handling of the Clinton email scandal) that seem to be apologizing for the results of the situation, while illustrating why he was both neutral and innocent with regards to the situation and its knock-on effects. This book seems to have a lot of apologias to it, and all of them have higher appeals to the spirit of the American system. In a respect, this is probably the most patriotic book I have ever read, and I think that is a compliment Comey would gladly take.