James Comey offers fine example for young graduates

My youngest is graduating from high school this weekend, and I am being what the millennials might call “emo AF.” It’s an abbreviated, yet vulgar way of saying I am overly emotional about the whole thing.

I’ve been trying my hardest to hide my emo-ness most of the time, though, lest I trigger an eye-rolling lecture full of other millennial-isms about my behavior.

So it’s been an interesting academic year, my son and I working around the same focal point — his first steps into adulthood — from our two different angles.

I tried to find a common angle a while back. I told him that when I was turning 18 and getting ready to graduate, I felt like the grown up world was a crazy place full of crazy people doing crazy things that didn’t make sense.

And I told him that I didn’t feel like my parents and school had adequately prepared me for it.

My son said he felt the same way, and we had a really cool conversation. Of course that conversation required prolonging an internal review of my many failings as a parent that could result in my child feeling that way, but there was ample time for that after the conversation was over.

But then I started to wonder if my son and I were alone in feeling that way at 18. So I asked around. I’ve probably asked a couple dozen people, some my youngest’s age and some mine and some in-between.

So far, it’s unanimous. Everyone I have asked says they felt the same way.

That unanimity enabled me to acknowledge that while my son’s sense of unpreparedness may be in part because of my many failings, it also might be part cultural. Like maybe there’s something missing from our rites of passage for youth or maybe we’ve let our adult culture go a little too haywire to appeal to the last couple generations of teens.

I told my youngest that even though I felt the same way when I was his age, I thought his generation faced greater challenges because the craziness was even crazier today than it was when I was 18.

I told him the trick was — and goodness knows I’m no master — to learn to stay true to yourself amid the craziness, to try to make sense to yourself whether it fell in line with the craziness going on around you or not.

I was thinking about that conversation while I was listening to some of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. Myself, I’ve never had a beef with his performance. For others, maligning him during the last year, whether from on the right or left has been political vogue.

Comey has been accused of throwing the 2016 election in President Donald Trump’s favor because of his handling of information regarding then-candidate Hillary Clinton. He’s been accused of being a showboat undermining the Trump presidency. Now, he’s also a disgruntled ex-employee.

I know I use this trope too much, but seriously?!?

Congress, the Clintons, Trump and his circle, political pundits — are these folks seriously questioning the integrity and judgment of Comey?! These folks may have the right to do so, but they certainly don’t have the moral authority.

At 20 percent, Congress has a lower approval rating than Trump, so enough said about their moral authority in the eyes of the American public. The Clintons could probably teach a graduate class in how to parley questionable ethics into political careers and financial gain, so there’s little in that torrid history to suggest moral authority.

Political pundits and their handling of Election 2016 — enough said about their moral authority.

And I have yet to hear even Trump’s most ardent defenders argue that our president has any moral authority before or after entering the office. They have a hard enough time arguing his mental stability, let alone moral authority.

Then there’s Comey in the middle of this mess — a former president meeting privately with Comey’s boss while Comey was investigating his wife and presidential candidate; a current president who seemed to have a prerequisite that people needed to have extensive connections to our adversary, Russia, in order to be in his inner circle; an administrative transition that saw leadership changes and a recusal that left Comey’s department woefully understaffed; an intelligence community’s reputation under chronic attack and more.

Comey’s not a showboating, election-throwing, disgruntled ex-employee. He seems like a decent, calm, relatively implacable man stuck a pretty bad example of the grown up world being full of crazy people doing crazy things that don’t make sense.

Comey’s doing his best to be true to himself, his duties, and in doing so, to make sense when not much around him does.

Comey’s setting just the kind of example young graduates today really need to see.


Back to my last post for a little clarification and reader feedback:

To be clear, when I said I hoped Senator Susan Collins would enter the Republican gubernatorial candidate field, I was not giving a blanket endorsement of her as governor — it’s too early for that sort of thing. I respect and appreciate Sen. Collins’ commitment to public service, and in that regard, I was giving a blanket endorsement to the idea that her candidacy would bring a quick end to Mary Mayhew’s candidacy in the Republican field, and I know I am not alone in desiring that outcome. 

Also, a reader summed up my post in one simple sentence: Maine needs Mayhew as governor like Maine needs more ticks. LOL!

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.