Friday, May 12, 2017

“You’re fired”

One of the great things about traveling in the old days was the light touch you could keep with the news back home by picking up a copy of the International Herald Tribune. This was a skinny little broadsheet that gave you pretty much everything you needed to know: headline news and baseball scores, plus a bit of ex-pat color. It took ten minutes to read, and you felt connected. Reading the International Herald Trib was how I kept up with the Watergate hearings in 1973.

Even though I was pretty much an obsessional news reader (and watcher) since the age of six, back then, enough news was enough.

And then came Sky News. So if you had any access to TV, you could follow the news more closely. Admittedly, they never gave enough play to what was happening in the USA – come on, who cares what’s happening in Burundi and Liechtenstein – but you got more than you did from the paper, and it was more up to date, and you didn’t have to wait until the next morning when you went to pick your Trib up at the tabac to be able to follow the plots.

These days, the good news – well, sort of good news – is that wi-fi is everywhere. So you can noodle around 24/7 for the latest.

Thus, the other evening, while we were sitting in the living room of our digs in Galway, my sister Trish announced that Katy Tur (MSNBC correspondent) had just tweeted that James Comey had been fired.

For obvious reasons, I’m no big fan of James Comey. But I did have a small bit of faith that he and the FBI would help get to the bottom of the Russian heap at some point. And there is certainly a cloud of suspicion over the timing and faux rationale of his sudden departure. But one of the most troubling aspects of his being fired is, to me, the way in which it went down – and what it said about the person doing the firing.

During my career, I have been involved in a few firings, not because the people being fired were evil doers, but because they did something supremely ill-considered and outright wrong (not evil). But, jeez Louise, you fire someone to their face. Or on the phone. And it happens in real time. The person being fired, other than the HR folks and managers who need to be involved, is the first to know. And unless you’re on The Apprentice or something, the firing happens in private. Everybody may know two seconds later what happened, but the person being fired gets at least a nano-second to put their game face on before they have to do the walk of shame.

Comey finding out he was being fired when it came on the scrolling news chyron while he was speaking to FBI employees in LA…Huh?

Shouldn’t the president have manned up and called Comey? Or made sure the letter firing Comey was delivered to him personally? Apparently, nobody bothered to find out where Comey was actually going to be when all this went down. The need to get the deed done trumped all else. Function over form. I get it. Once you decide on something, you want it done. Still..

I’m over here in Ireland playing word association, and what I come up with is: tin pot, incompetent, impulse control, unstable, erratic, dishonest (fired because o the Hillary ‘stuff’: does anyone other than Eric Trump believe that?), and scared shitless about what a real investigation into matters-Russky will bring about.

Okay. There’s nothing new here. I would have made the same word associations the day before Comey was fired. Nonetheless, ain’t nothing about this that says good judgment, sound reasoning.

James Comey is a big boy. He will survive all this quite nicely, I’m sure. And I’m equally sure that when he thinks about how he got the axe, he’s just shaking his head and saying to himself, ‘consider the source.’

Yet wouldn’t we all like to see a bit more any thoughtfulness, a bit more any decency coming out of the Oval Office?

Over the years, I saw quite a bit of bad managerial behavior when it came to handling employees. I saw executives throw subordinates under the bus in public forums. I saw conversations best held in private “performed” – because it did always seem like a performance, like when parents scream at their kids in the grocery store, then try to catch your eye and get your approval – in front of those who had no business being privy to the conversation. I saw layoffs conducted in the most callous of manner.

And Trump’s firing of Comey just takes the cake.

God knows I didn’t need another reason to despise Donald Trump. This just adds to the fear factor about what he’s going to do next.


And while I’m at it, what about Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterizing what Comey had done as “basic atrocities.” Exaggerate much? The problem with the basics seems to be the White House’s: basic competence, basic language skills…

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