Saturday, April 28, 2018

Mr. Comey goes to Chicago

Somebody's happy about his book sales!
Shame on me for taking so long to write up my big Comey Day!

Although it has been more like Comey Week...or Comey Fortnight, hasn't it? Give his publisher credit for knowing how to promote a book, because he has been everywhere. (Not that I'm complaining.) And it has certainly paid off because A Higher Loyalty sits atop the New York Times (which is not failing, despite what you might have heard) best sellers list! #1 with a bullet, baby! 

I've enjoyed watching his numerous interviews, and I find that he comes across as honest, credible, and genuinely funny. (Your mileage may vary because I am quite biased.) That held true in Chicago, which was the first stop on his nationwide book tour. 

It was a beautiful spring day in Chicago, with nice temperatures and bright sunshine. After we checked in at our hotel, we relaxed a bit before heading out for dinner. We had decided that pizza sounded good, so we went to Giordano's and had a small deep dish pizza. It had been a long time since we had deep dish pizza and it tasted so good! I could eat some of that right now. 

Then we made our way to the Harris Theater and after Ken chatted up some of the staff, we found the best place to wait before they opened the doors. Much of the floor was reserved for VIP ticket holders so we would have had to sit in the back. The staff recommended the balcony, so after picking up our books, we waited up there for the doors to open. We had a couple of drinks while we chatted with some of the other people in line and Ken and I joked that it looked like we might have been the youngest people in the theater—and we're no spring chickens! So is it older Democrats who are drawn to Comey? Based on the Chicago audience make-up, yes. 

But it's hard to tell. He seems to be mostly reviled by those on the right, but there is a fair measure of those on the left who also can't stand him. He is a bit of an enigma. 

The Handsome Stringbean of Justice. He really is tall.
We ended up in the front row of the balcony and had a great view! There were no pictures or video allowed, but Ken managed to sneak in a couple towards the end. (Shhh, don't tell anyone!)

I had my notebook all ready to go because I planned on taking copious notes. He was introduced, came out to strong applause, and stood at the front of the stage and spoke without notes for about a half an hour. I wrote exactly one thing down and then my note-taking plan went out the window because I was so fascinated by what he was saying! 

What was my note? "Melting like sand at the beach." I have no idea what that was in reference to but I guess I just liked the way he said it! 

He spoke of a lot of things that were in the book (which I had finished the day before), and seemed relaxed and very comfortable speaking that way. I am kind of in awe of people who can do that because I would be a nervous wreck. No podium to stand behind? Nothing to hold onto? Just your hands waving all over the place or hanging down at your sides? That is the stuff of nightmares for me! He just held his hands in front of him or gestured as he made a point. So he's good at what he does. Of course, when you're a federal prosecutor, I suppose you learn to be comfortable speaking in front of people. Or at least how to do it effectively. 

After his opening remarks, he sat down for an interview with a woman from the Chicago Humanities Festival, Marilynn Thoma. She did a very nice job and it was a fun and interesting talk. Again, he seemed relaxed, and her questions got him to expound a little on various topics. Then it was time for a few audience questions. Those of us with tickets had gotten an email asking for question submissions, so I made sure to submit one. 

First question. Not mine. 

Second question. Not mine. 

Third question.

Beth R.! That's me! 
MINE!!!! Mine mine mine all mine! I think the other two questions were Anonymous, but I had included my name, so there I was, Beth R., right up there on the screen. I managed not to leap out of my seat and yell, "THAT'S MY QUESTION!" But it was close. As Ken put it, I was "a hot mess." Guilty as charged! In fact, I was so excited that his response didn't even register. I had to ask Ken later. It was, he would "consider it." 

Now, obviously, I doubt that either a newly-elected Democratic president, or the current "president" if re-elected (I just mentally threw up), would choose him to lead the F.B.I. again. He would be a very controversial pick and would get a lot more opposition than he did the first time he was confirmed as Director. He was confirmed 93-1. However, I think it spoke to his abiding love for the F.B.I. It sounds like it was his ultimate job and he looked forward to staying for his ten-year term. It's obvious that he still loves all the people there and the vast majority love him back. 

As he has come across in his interviews, I found him consistent in his remarks and genuinely concerned with the disdain for facts and truth under our current administration. He is greatly disturbed by the attacks on our justice and law enforcement systems, as we all should be. Constructive criticism and proper oversight are essential; tearing down these institutions is detrimental to a properly functioning society. He cautions against becoming numb to the daily assault on our norms and said over and over that what we are seeing is not normal. He said we must not become inured to that. He is encouraged, however, by the current engagement of citizens, especially young people. He thinks everyone should pay attention, get involved, make our voices heard. I couldn't agree more! 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Director Comey. I found him interesting, funny, and even a little bit charming. Disagree with me if you want. But it's how I feel. He got a standing ovation when the evening was over, so I think he charmed a few others besides me!

I walked out of the theater on Cloud Nine (those two vodka tonics didn't hurt) and on the way back to the hotel, we stopped to see Cloud Gate, AKA The Bean. I had never seen it at night, and found out that the brightly lit skyline of Chicago is reflected in its shiny surface. 

It was a beautiful sight and the perfect ending to a wonderful day.