James Comey is not old school. He’s to Eliot Ness as the original Batman was to the original Superman. The latter openly fought for truth, justice, and the American way because he wanted to give back to the planet that had given him a home. The former was a confused vigilante, motivated by the dark desire to revenge his parents’ deaths at the hands of bad guys.
Comey is Petula Clark singing “Feelings.” In his Senate testimony he described how his duties caused him “a whole lot of personal pain.” He was often “confused and concerned” about things, sometimes even “honestly concerned.” More than the facts, he spoke of his “impression,” “reading,” and “sense” of the facts. Something Loretta Lynch asked him to do “gave [him] a queasy feeling.”
That’s not how Joe Friday talked on “Dragnet.” Or Clint Eastwood. When Clint shot a bad guy, all he felt was a slight pressure on his trigger finger.
Comey talks the way girls talk.
My impression, sense, and reading of Comey — my gut feeling — is that he’s got a lot of girlish qualities. Others picked up on this as well, in a subconscious way, as the twitter sphere erupted with Comey-as-victim-of-sexual-harassment memes.
The media as well. “Elle compared Comey’s one-on-one meeting with President Donald Trump to a terrible date,” noted Breitbart. “The former FBI director’s boss tried to seduce him. When the seduction failed, his boss fired him,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
Like many operatic heroines, Comey had “confidantes” through whom he could convey his personal narrative, via leaks to the media. Thus we learn how he prepared for his date with the president. “Before going to the dinner, Comey practiced Trump’s likely questions and his answers with a small group of his most trusted confidants,” they told The Washington Post.
Anyone with a teenage daughter will recognize this scenario. “What’ll I say if he wants to go all the way?” she asks her convened BFFs. “How do I say no without turning him off?” Or, as Comey’s confidants would have it, how could he preserve “his own moral compass, but at the same time… [not] inflame his commander in chief.”
The girls make her promise she’ll tell them everything that happened, in as much detail as she can muster. So when she comes home, she does her best to capture her evening in her diary, including “very nuanced quotes… and a high level of detail.”
Comey described these remembrances as “my recollection recorded” to Senator Roy Blunt, and Andrew McCarthy explains that this is a legal term of art to exempt evidence from the hearsay rule.
What it really was was “Dear Diary” entries, a 16-year-old revealing all about her date, with “nuanced quotes” and “a level of detail” meant to titillate the girlfriends who’ll be allowed to read it.
But, as is often the case, actually being in a situation is not like being in a rehearsal, and hours of practice flew out the window when the moment of truth arrived.
FEINSTEIN: Now, here’s the question, you’re big. You’re strong. I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you?
COMEY: It’s a great question. Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in. …. Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance.
FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?
COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that.
Like many another lass in similar circumstances, Comey left open the promise of the ultimate prize at a future date. Girls do that when they want to be asked again. When they don’t, they tell the guy to bugger off or, more politely, “I’m just not that much into you.”
Marco Rubio brilliantly captured the entire essence of Comey’s Senate testimony in the following:
RUBIO: The president’s wishes were known to [the public], certainly by the next day when he had a press conference with the prime minister. Going back, the three requests were, number one, be loyal. Number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go. He is a good guy, been treated unfairly. Number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in Congress already know, which you already know and what you told me three times, that I’m not under personally under investigation.
COMEY: That’s right.
That’s it. All the rest is James Comey’s histrionics. Histrionic personality disorder [HPD] is characterized by “a pattern of excessive attention-seeking” and “an excessive need for approval.” Those who suffer from it tend to be dramatic, egocentric, self-indulgent, and manipulative. Women are four times more likely to suffer from it than men.
Esther Goldberg is a lawyer in Alexandria, Va.