The two-bullet theory

Scott Adams presents his two-bullet theory to explain why Comey first covered for Hillary, then exposed her:

My movie says Comey had good evidence against Clinton during the initial investigation but made a judgement call to leave the decision to the American public. For reasons of conscience, and acting as a patriot, Comey explained in clear language to the public exactly what evidence the FBI found against Clinton. The evidence looked daming because it was. Under this interpretation, Comey took a bullet to his reputation for the sake of the Republic. He didn’t want the FBI to steal this important decision away from the people, but at the same time he couldn’t let the people decide blind. So he divulged the evidence and stepped away, like the action hero who doesn’t look back at the explosion.

In the second act of this movie, Comey learns that the Weiner laptop had emails that were so damning it would be a crime against the public to allow them to vote without first seeing a big red flag. And a flag was the best he could do because it was too early in the investigation to leak out bits and pieces of the evidence. That would violate Clinton’s rights.

But Comey couldn’t easily raise a red flag to warn the public because it was against FBI policy to announce a criminal investigation about a candidate so close to election day. So Comey had a choice of either taking another bullet for the Republic or screwing the very country that he has spent his career protecting.

In this movie, Comey did the hero thing. He alerted the public to the fact that the FBI found DISQUALIFYING information on the Weiner laptop. And he took a second bullet to his reputation.

How do I know the new emails are that bad?

I start by assuming Comey is the same man now as the one who was carefully vetted before being hired to protect the integrity of one of our most important institutions. And even Comey’s critics concede he’s smart.


The way you know the new emails are disqualifying for Clinton is because otherwise our hero would have privately informed Congress and honored the tradition of not influencing elections. Comey is smart enough to know his options. And unless he suddenly turned rotten at his current age, he’s got the character to jump in front of a second bullet for the Republic.

According to this movie, no matter who gets elected, we’ll eventually learn of something disqualifying in the Weiner emails.

And we can’t say we weren’t warned. Comey took two bullets to do it.

While I agree with Scott’s conclusion that the emails have to be THAT bad in order to justify Comey’s change of heart, I don’t agree with his twice-heroic interpretation of Comey’s actions. Comey strikes me more as someone who did the dirty the first time around, felt guilty about having failed in his duty, and when given the opportunity to do the right thing and redeem himself, leaped at the chance.

The fact that we have word of an internal rebellion at the FBI and his wife’s initial disappointment in him tends to support this theory. The good news about the redemption theory is that having failed once, and having personally experienced the negative consequences of that failure, I expect Comey is much more likely to hold firm under fire this time around, especially given that he knows he will have the support of those around him. He’s going to need it, too, because he is already coming under tremendous fire from some very powerful people.

Besides, if we’re talking about movies, the Redemption motif is stronger than the Machiavellian Hero story.