James Comey’s Book, a Higher Loyalty, Explained
Matthew Yglesias, Vox: James Comey’s book, a Higher Loyalty, explained
To Trump, the key question about everything is how it relates to him personally — friends should be rewarded, and enemies should be punished.
That’s how economic regulation works in many autocratic states, and it serves to entrench the autocrat in power and to impoverish their populations. But to impose that vision of America requires both political appointees and career civil servants to ignore not just the letter and the spirit of the law but also their own personal and institutional imperatives. In an ideal world, of course, people would do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. But real-world governments and political institutions don’t function because they’re populated by angels — they need to function despite being populated by actual, flawed human beings.
Comey isn’t a storybook hero, and the real-world consequences of his pursuit of institutional autonomy have been decidedly mixed over the years. But it served as a decided virtue during the early months of the Trump administration, and the country’s best hope for the duration of his time in office is that a wide range of officials — not just FBI agents and federal prosecutors but also regulators and Cabinet secretaries and all the rest — more or less follow his example and insist on maintaining their prerogatives and autonomy.