I know for a fact I have lost at least a couple of readers due to previous installments in which I touched on politics (which may bring my readership, if you don’t count my family, into the single digits), so it is with some reluctance I go there today.
But sometimes the material is just too good that I take the risk of alienating folks, even though it is not my intention.
As always, I’m coming from the point of view of an observer. To be sure, like every other human being, I am tainted by a lifetime of attained biases and leanings (some of which I continue to try and overcome), but unless I state otherwise, I try to be as neutral as possible in this space.
With the release of the inspector general’s report on the FBI and its former director, James Comey,
relating to the handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State, I want to attempt to comment (neutrally, of course) while making a point about how we filter the news and information we receive.
As I write this, it has been about 24 hours since the release of the inspector general’s report. The report criticizes Comey for being insubordinate in not advising his superiors at the Department of Justice before his July 5, 2016 press conference in which he described Clinton as “extremely careless” in her handling of emails, but did not recommend prosecution, and for not acting sooner when re-opening the investigation, rather than doing so days before the election.
And although some FBI employees are said to have acted with political bias, the report stated Comey did not appear to do so.
I have, of course, not read the entire 600-page report of the investigation and I don’t intend to. I am
relying on various news sources that have summarized the report. And I suppose some of those betray some biases also.
Be that as it may, it appears what I just stated is a summary, albeit oversimplified, of the inspector
What I find incredibly interesting – and more than a little comical — are the varied reactions.
President Trump believes himself to be vindicated, claiming in a tweet that he did the American people a great service by firing Comey, and doing a victory lap on Fox News to call Comey some other names for good measure.
Comey, on the other hand, wrote a New York Times op-ed in which he said he disagrees with parts of
the report, stating that “even in hindsight I think we chose the course most consistent with institutional values.”
Even so, Comey said he thought the inspector general’s report was important, and he respects “the
work of his office and his professionalism.”
GOP leaders, although not as harsh as Trump, claimed similar vindication, while Democratic stalwarts Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi giddily reported how this will in no way affect the Mueller investigation into Trump and Russia.
And so predictably on. It’s all about perception and, to an extent, what people want things to mean.
I read Clinton’s election postmortem, “What Happened,” in which she explains yet again why she lost
the 2016 election. Not surprisingly, in her view it had very little to do with her weakness as a candidate and much more to do with Comey’s October announcement that he would be re-opening the investigation into her emails.
I also read Comey’s Book, “A Higher Loyalty,” in which he attempts to explain his and the FBI’s actions in investigating the email saga, as well as the storyline on his subsequent dismissal by Trump.
I found both books incredibly interesting.
Self-serving? Of course.
Clinton was denied the job she had been preparing for her entire life, suffering defeat at the hands of a reality TV star who had never held political office or worked in government. Why not write a book that would state her point of view and make her a boatload of money?
And ever since his firing by Trump, Comey had been licking his wounds, listening not only to Trump (and reading his tweets), but to all of the pundits. In “A Higher Loyalty,” he took his turn.
Some of this might be too much for some people in that their stomachs just can’t take it. I get that. I used to get pretty worked up over a lot of this stuff too.
But somehow, without intending to do so, I came to a place where I can digest this information and
consider it, while not getting too excited over it.
I believe James Comey believes he did the right thing. I understand Hillary Clinton has had a hard time getting over her loss.
I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with what they wrote in their respective books, but I found both
narratives compelling, as I do what I have read about the inspector general’s report and the various
comments on it.
I continue to read, listen and observe, and to be fascinated by the vastly different ways people interpret what they read, hear and observe.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.