During the 2016 presidential campaign, a lot of people reacted to the choice of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump with a sad response:
Who else do you have?
Sunday night, after listening to James Comey, former head of the FBI, condemn the president and his well-documented aversion to the truth, I wanted to feel relieved, to wake up on Monday with the notion that while the turmoil is far from over, we are heading in the right direction and will get there eventually.
There, in this case, is with a president and a Congress and a variety of national institutions, including the FBI, who deserve our trust.
But we’re not there yet, and I still don’t know how we will proceed.
While Comey was endearingly modest about the role he played in the election, there was no excuse for George Stephanopoulos to let him get away with it.
Comey broke FBI and Justice Department precedent when he cleared Clinton of any crimes for the way she handled her emails, yet lectured her on her behavior.
He broke that precedent again when he announced the reopening and then the re-closing of the investigation as the campaign reached its conclusion.
And he betrayed a double standard by making the Clinton investigation so public while keeping a lid on the investigation into Russian meddling and the Trump campaign, an investigation that continues today and that has mind-boggling implications for our democracy, now and in the future.
It also is misleading to evaluate Comey and the FBI under his tenure without remembering that for all the talk about integrity and impartiality, the organization has been implicated more than once in troubling ways.
The acting director destroyed confidential papers on orders from the While House while his deputy, we learned years later, was the secretive source known as “Deep Throat” who guided the reporting of the Washington Post.
Before that, the bureau was under the control of the man who became synonymous with federal investigation and law enforcement, J. Edgar Hoover, who abused his powers for decades.
So when Comey talks about the integrity of the FBI, you have to wonder if he means what he says and not what some of his more infamous predecessors meant and did.
I don’t know if the nation will ever be able to fully trust the FBI again, given recent revelations that echo dark periods in its history.
The latest choice of Comey vs. Trump is a false one - although it is likely to be on top of the news for a while because there’s nothing cable stations like better than an endless debate with the usual suspects saying predictable things for hours on end.
Listen closely and you will realize that for all of the volume, there is no new news coming out of these clashes.
The news - the news that counts - will come from another former director of the FBI, the special prosecutor whose reputation as head of the bureau was solid and unquestioned and whose name has become an obscenity only to those who have good reason to fear that he will be able to do the job he was hired to do.
Don’t settle for Comey vs. Trump, because you do have another choice.
His name is Robert Mueller.