Friday, May 12, 2017

It's Not the Firing, It's the Reaction

2013: Obama's GOP FBI Pick a Folk Hero for Democrats (ABC)
Regarding the President's firing of FBI Director James Comey, the Economist gives two choices:
The sacking of James Comey: Was Donald Trump being incompetent, or malign?

If anything, the subheadline understates the vitriol in the editorial. [bold added]
Is the administration chaotic and unworthy of its place in a mighty tradition, but more farcical than corrupting—a madcap approximation of government by a reality-television star? Or is Mr Trump, who has just become the first president since Richard Nixon to fire a man who was leading a formal investigation into his associates, and perhaps himself, a threat to American democracy.
Ex-Director Comey wasn't exactly a paragon of leadership. Per the Economist, on November 7th:
FBI directors do not need to be popular, but they do need to have the confidence of their staff and, ideally, America. It is hard to think James Comey, who made a second belated intrusion into the general election on November 6th, has much of either currently...

Everything about Mr Comey’s performance on this issue seems lamentable. His criticism of Mrs Clinton’s “carelessness” in July was as irregular as it was damaging to the Democratic nominee. According to FBI protocol, he should have limited his remarks to the progress and outcome of his investigation...

It has been a truly wretched affair.
I am not a Donald Trump partisan--I didn't vote for him--but there's a plausible case that Mr. Trump has acted responsibly by firing a subordinate whose actions have harmed the effectiveness of the agency he leads. Getting rid of a man whose own competence was questioned for half of 2016 would have made sense to the Economist (inferred by its November 7th editorial) if done by President Obama.

The fact that the action was initiated by President Trump has triggered an over-the-top response by the Economist's editorial page and demonstrates how extreme partisanship ("If the president nominates one of his stooges, such as Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie, to replace Mr Comey, that opposition will grow"---note: stooges are the former Mayor of New York City and the current Governor of New Jersey) has overwhelmed the pages of a once-august publication.


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