Comey, Trump and the political sin of vanity

Comey, Trump and the political sin of vanity
© Hill photo illustration/Nicole Vas

In the great motion picture, "The Devil’s Advocate," Al Pacino, brilliantly playing the Devil, concludes the film saying, with a smirk, that his favorite sin is vanity.

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE and James ComeyJames Brien ComeyShowtime developing limited series about Jan. 6 Capitol riot Wray says FBI not systemically racist John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges MORE, in one important way, deserve each other. They both suffer from extreme cases of the sin that Satan savors according to Pacino's Devil.

Trump’s vanity is legendary. He is the gold standard for praising himself. If the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences could present an Oscar for the best picture of vanity, the winner would undoubtedly be the reality-show actor who currently performs in the Oval Office. 


In a profession not known for modesty, no politician has ever spent so much time praising himself, comparing himself favorably to virtually all previous presidents and making claims about his achievements that generate more Pinocchios than all previous presidents in American history combined!  


Lordy, what can Americans think of a former FBI director who seeks to bury Trump by imitating his performance on the playing field of vanity? 

The new book by James Comey, which I recently described here as shameful and despicable, and the Comey book tour, aimed at maximizing his profits from his dubious venture, should earn Comey the best supporting actor in the vanity category.

While special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE is investigating obstruction of justice, Comey, who is the most important witness on this matter, should have delayed his book until after Mueller has finished his work. Sadly, Comey’s self-absorption and vanity are so great that he put his book profits and media appearances ahead of what is best for the Mueller investigation.

In his book, Comey:

  • condemns the orange skin color of Trump;
  • dishes innuendo without proof about what Trump may have done in the presence of prostitutes in Moscow in 2013;
  • criticizes Trump’s ties, which he says are too long;
  • opines about the president’s hands; and
  • says he hopes Hillary Clinton will view him as an “honest idiot” (about this Comey is probably half right).

Comey should donate his book profits and the profits from any movie deal he is almost certainly peddling, to the #MeToo movement.

Comey did more than his part to ensure the defeat of the candidate who would have been the first woman president and to elect the president who he says treats women horrendously poorly. 

Having discussed Trump’s necktie length, orange complexion and hands, Comey outdoes himself on the vanity front by claiming, yet again, that his actions that helped Trump defeat Clinton in the last 10 days of the 2016 were perfectly right, proper and commendable.

Sharing a passion for their own perfection, Comey and Trump do not admit mistakes.

Comey claims that the greatest mistake of his actions in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, was that he could have done a better job of public relations explaining to Clinton why he did what he did, which helped elect the man he loathes so much.

Trump, whose vanity leads him to regularly call for the imprisonment of opponents, which is not a wise move for someone under an investigation he yearns to prematurely end, condemns Comey, whose vanity leads him to proudly sing praise for his own actions, regardless of the merits or consequences.

While we should not conclusively judge Trump on the matter of impeachment until the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller is complete, Comey also says that no matter what the Mueller investigation finds, Trump should not be impeached because that would let the American people “off the hook."

Lordy, Comey does not base this view on the rule of law, whether that ultimately mitigates for or against impeachment, but on his vainglorious condescension toward the American people, who he says should not be “let off the hook” for voting for the candidate he helped elect, who he now says is morally unfit for the presidency.

If Trump deserves the Oscar for best leading man for vanity, Comey’s condescension toward the American people earns him the best supporting actor. On this level, they deserve each other. Both of them would put a smile on the face of Al Pacino playing the Devil.   

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.