Shed no tears for FBI Director Comey’s dismissal.

There are many reasons why Secretary Clinton lost the Presidential election.  The first is because she is a woman.  A significant portion of the American voting population, men and a not so small segment of women, consciously, or unconsciously, would not or could not bring themselves to conceive of a woman as President of the United States. Many of the unconscious, “I just can’t get my head around a woman as President” group, spent some time looking for ways to rationalize their feeling, and Comey’s announcement just before the election that he was reopening the FBI investigation of candidate Clinton provided a great rationalization for not voting for the woman who was under investigation.

The second reason for Secretary Clinton’s defeat was that her last name was Clinton. After thirty some odd years in the public glare of a national political life the Clinton story had picked up a lot of barnacles, some from their own actions, and some from years of attacks, distortions and out right, oft repeated, lies from personal and political enemies.  Rightly or wrongly, these images of the Clinton political history had become firmly attached to Secretary Clinton.

A third reason for the Secretary Clinton’s loss was, as she has stated, campaign mistakes, for which as the candidate she held the final responsibility.  Presidential campaign historians will spend years chewing on questions about how the Clinton campaign failed to deal with the Trump twitter blizzard, or how it did not respond well or quickly enough to various attacks.  Did she push too hard on the fact of her role as the first woman President?   These questions and many others will be fodder for graduate school dissertations for years to come.

These causes for the Clinton defeat all originated with Secretary Clinton herself or were arguably under her control.  She is a women.  Her last name is Clinton.  She was in charge of her own campaign.  The substance, or really lack of substance, and timing of the Comey announcement concerning the reopening of the email investigation which he had said was over was completely out of her control. Coming as it did in the last ten days of the campaign when many voters were finally making their final choice about to who to vote for and why, it became the proverbial straw that broke the back of the Clinton campaign.

I have spent some time trying to understand why a person who had attained the highest position in the country in our premier national criminal investigative organization, could have taken such an egregiously dumb and harmful action as making such an announcement so close to a Presidential election.  To compound the felony, if you will, he discussed only one investigation of a Presidential candidate and failed to mention that the FBI investigation of the campaign and members of the staff of the other Presidential candidate was ongoing. It rather seems that if you are going to publicly discuss ongoing criminal investigations, which generally speaking you are not supposed to do, you should discuss all of them when you gratuitously insert yourself and your federal governmental agency into a Presidential election campaign.

I  have come up with a couple of possible ways in which to understand the Comey action.  None of them are entirely satisfactory, but they are at least a place to start.

Perhaps Mr. Comey is, to quote an old New England saw, just numb as a hake or at best has the political antenna of a rutting bull moose.  It is difficult to credit the idea that a person who became head of  the FBI is just numb although it is possible, as his recent testimony before a Senate sub-committee on another ongoing email investigation and actions by other senior members of federal government agencies and departments over the years has demonstrated.  It is more possible that Mr. Comey just does not have a very well tuned political sensibility or that after a couple of years as the director of the FBI whatever national political insight he may have had has disappeared from lack of use in an isolating job.

I think it more likely though that Mr. Comey took his action so devastating to the Clinton campaign and has defended it so unrelentingly ever since, out of our old political player friends: arrogance and hubris. It is at best fatuous for Comey to say that he had no choice in the action he took. He publicly announced the reopening of an email investigation concerning one of two major Presidential candidates just before the election, asserting himself as an arbiter of the entire Presidential campaign. Did someone chain him to his desk to write that letter?  Did  someone drag him to that microphone?  If that does not fit under the definition of monumental arrogance then I perhaps don’t know what arrogance is. Even his nefarious predecessor, J. Edgar Hoover, never had the brass to so openly interfere in a Presidential campaign, and Mr. Hoover had monumental illusions of grandeur.

I will shed no tears over Mr. Comey’s dismissal.   He should not have the job as head of the FBI.  If you want to worry about anything associated with the Comey firing, spend some time thinking about the usually tactless, equally arrogant, and marginally within the law way in which the Trump White House accomplished it.  This is not the way to run a railroad.

Robert Lenna

About Robert Lenna

My professional career has been involved in bringing to Maine the financial capital to build our infrastructure of housing, schools, roads, hospitals, colleges, water and sewer districts. As Executive Director of four independent state authorities charged with putting together public financing for hundreds of infrastructure projects I was responsible for bringing billions of dollar into the Maine economy.