The FBI, Credibility, and Government
The FBI, Credibility, and Government
July 7, 2016
The primary goal of government is its own credibility.
That notion needs some explaining.
Governments do many things, including building roads, providing social services, defending the homeland, and more. But no matter what the government is trying to accomplish, its macro-responsibility is to maintain its own credibility. Governments without credibility devolve into chaos. Credibility has to be job one.
Consider all the different government systems around the world, and all the different laws they created. The Chinese government is different from the United States government, which is different from Jordan’s government, which is different from Great Britain. But each of those governments is credible to its own people, and that’s the key. The specific laws and the specific forms of government don’t matter too much, so long as the public views its own local system as credible.
The notion of credibility is why my political preferences don’t align with either of the candidates for president. I look for credibility in government, not for my personal agreement with a particular policy.
For example, I think laws regarding abortion are most credible when they are agreeable to the majority of women, no matter what the majority of men think. Imagine an abortion-related law that was acceptable to 90% of men but only 10% of women. It wouldn’t be credible. Nor should it be.
I take this same thinking to how a president should fill Supreme Court openings. For maximum credibility, we should have eight justices instead of nine, equally divided by liberal versus conservative credentials. That way nothing gets through the Supreme Court unless one of the liberals or one of the conservatives switches sides. That’s how you get credibility. Compare that to a 5-4 court that always votes conservative or always votes liberal. With a biased court, every decision will lack credibility with half of the citizens. That’s a problem.
This gets me to FBI Director James Comey’s decision to drop the case against Hillary Clinton for her e-mail security lapses. To the great puzzlement of everyone in America, and around the world, Comey announced two things:
1. Hillary Clinton is 100% guilty of crimes of negligence.
2. The FBI recommends dropping the case.
From a legal standpoint, that’s absurd. And that’s how the media seems to be reacting. The folks who support Clinton are sheepishly relieved and keeping their heads down. But the anti-Clinton people think the government is totally broken and the system is rigged. That’s an enormous credibility problem.
But what was the alternative?
The alternative was the head of the FBI deciding for the people of the United States who would be their next president. A criminal indictment against Clinton probably would have cost her the election.
How credible would a future President Trump be if he won the election by the FBI’s actions instead of the vote of the public? That would be the worst case scenario even if you are a Trump supporter. The public would never accept the result as credible.
That was the choice for FBI Director Comey. He could either do his job by the letter of the law – and personally determine who would be the next president – or he could take a bullet in the chest for the good of the American public.
He took the bullet.
Thanks to Comey, the American voting public will get to decide how much they care about Clinton’s e-mail situation. And that means whoever gets elected president will have enough credibility to govern effectively.
Comey might have saved the country. He sacrificed his reputation and his career to keep the nation’s government credible.
It was the right decision.
Comey is a hero.
Speaking of heroes, my book is rectangular.