12 May 2018

A Highter Loyalty, and some thoughts.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and LeadershipA Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The true takeaway from this book is that leadership is hard. Leaders have to make decisions between duelling worst-case scenarios, and they have to accept the probability of being misunderstood.

James Comey's book explains a lot about how his experiences as a lawyer and prosecutor led him to the decisions he made in the run-up to the 2016 election. Early experiences with organized crime taught him that some leaders value loyalty above all else. Other experiences, like his battles over surveillance techniques and targets, taught him that people are complicated, and that agendas can influence even the most celebrated leaders.

Reading the last part of this book, the part in which he explains his decisions about the Clinton e-mail investigations, led me to a greater **understanding and respect** for what he did. I understand now that we still do not know all of the factors surrounding all of the players in the Justice Department, the FBI, and the political circus we all experienced. We can judge, if we wish, based on our familiarity with the facts as they have been reported, but our judgments are going to be based on incomplete evidence. I fear that will not change, because some of what Comey tells us about the existence of still-classified materials is not likely to change anytime soon. And, perhaps, it's not relevant. We'll never know.


** I say "understanding and respect," not "agreement." I may never agree, or disagree. I do hope I'll never have to see so many competing influences colliding in a presidential election again - foreign interference, tribalism, polarization, disregard for norms, deafness to the concerns of those whose views differ from our own, unrealistic expectations, disregard for prior standards that kept our way of electing our president relatively stable for 250 years. It was hideous.

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