WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 08: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey’s loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
It is always disappointing to see talented individuals allow themselves to be subsumed into the morass of an overweening ego, which it seems, tragically, to happen to too many. I was a longtime listener/watcher of Don Imus, for example, but couldn’t continue to do so once it became clear that his ego had taken over. The same thing happened to Bill O’Reilly, who, once he started believing his own PR, became unwatchable, and now Megan Kelly, who actually has no discernible reason to be so pleased with herself, is impossible to listen to.
And don’t even get me started on Barack Hussein Obama.
Now, we have the remarkable example of such hubris as exhibited by James Comey, late of the FBI, who so can’t get over the wonderfulness of his own self that he is comparing himself to medieval saints.
God help us.
James Comey is a very strange man, who it seems to be impossible to peg. He has been alternately lauded as an incorruptible public servant, condemned as a destroyer of Hillary Clinton’s chances to win the Presidency, and accused of being a leaker of government secrets who should be prosecuted, among other things. How he sees himself is clear: he is the sun around whom all else revolves; he sees nothing wrong with pitting himself against the President of the United States, and declaring himself the winner.
The person to whom he compared himself, St. Thomas Becket, possessed no such self-love.
Thomas Becket was born in 1118, in Normandy when it was part of England, to a well off English family living there at that time. He was sent to Paris for his education as a young man, and then went to England where he joined the household of the individual who was then Archbishop of Canterbury, which was the most senior position in the Church of England. Young though he was, Becket’s “administrative skills, his charm, intelligence and diplomacy propelled him forward.”
That which really put him at the top of the heap in medieval England was his introduction to the newly crowned King of England, Henry II, in 1154. The two young men immediately hit it off, and quickly became inseparable. They were both high born, handsome, high-spirited and brilliant, and while Becket did offer the King much help in necessary kingly areas such as diplomacy, finance and military strategies, it has been said that they would often be quite naughty together.
Thus when Theobold, Archbishop of Canterbury, died in 1161, Henry took it upon himself to put his dear friend in that position, with the expectation that with Becket as Archbishop, “royal supremacy over the English Church would be reasserted and royal rights over the Church would return to what they had been in the days of Henry’s grandfather, King Henry I of England.”
There was only one problem with this brilliant plan: Thomas Becket wasn’t a priest. It’s always who you know, however, and Becket was soon ordained as a priest, and the next day he was ordained a Bishop. That afternoon, June 2, 1162, Thomas Becket was made Archbishop of Canterbury.
What happened next was not foreseen by anyone, least of all the man who put the plan in motion, King Henry II. Almost as soon as he took office, Thomas Becket shifted his “allegiance from the Court (of his friend) to the Church, inspiring him to take a stand against his King.” Henry wanted errant priests subject to the law of the court of the King; Becket strongly opposed this and forced them to be subject to cannon law instead. King Henry wanted to be able to order the excommunication of anyone he felt needed to have this dreaded punishment doled out; Becket wanted this to be the unique ability of the Church. Thomas Becket took steps to recover lands lost to the archdiocese; the King demanded that these lands be returned to the Crown instead. There were more and more examples of disputes between the two former best friends, most telling of which was that while King Henry continued to live his normal lavish, somewhat decadent lifestyle, which Becket had previously and happily shared, the new Archbishop had become an ascetic, and lived accordingly, to the extent of wearing hairshirts, which was beyond the comprehension of the King.
Things came to a head when King Henry, in late January, 1164, demanded of his Church officials that they swear to “uphold without reservations (sic) the customs of the Church as they had been in the King’s grandfather’s reign.” Initially in opposition, Becket eventually acquiesced and agreed to support this effort, which was called “The Constitutions of Clarendon.” Becket lost little of his intransigence in supporting ecclesiastical issues as more important than secular matters, though, and late in 1164 was accused by his former friend of various related malfeasances, and by November of 1164 the Archbishop of Canterbury felt it necessary to go into exile on the Continent.
For the next six years Papal legates went back and forth between England and France to try to force the two stubborn parties to resolve their differences, with threats of excommunication flying across the English Channel with great regularity. Finally, in July, 1170, the King and Becket reached certain terms of compromise, or so it seemed, allowing the Archbishop to return to England. Becket, unfortunately, immediately started the same kinds of machinations that he had before, i.e., asserting the authority of the Church over the state, the news of which reached King Henry’s ears. “When they did so, the royal anger at the timing of the excommunications was such that it led to Henry uttering the question often attributed to him: ‘What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’”
Well, there were four knights, devoted to their monarch, who heard him make this statement, and they immediately set off to Canterbury, (they were with the King in Normandy at the time), where, on December 29, 1170, they found the “annoying prelate” at the main altar of the Canterbury Cathedral, where a service was being conducted. The knights proceed to draw their swords and “began hacking at their victim, finally splitting his skull.”
The King, on whom the murder was blamed, paid a huge price for this act, to the extent of “donning a sack-cloth, walking barefoot through the streets of Canterbury while eighty monks flogged him with branches,” later spending the night in Becket’s crypt. It was also said that the King truly missed his brilliant and difficult friend when he was killed, and suffered terrible guilt for the rest of his life. Becket, however, quickly became a cult figure, inspiring many to observe miracles at his tomb, causing the former Archbishop to be canonized three years later by Pope Alexander III.
The fact that the repulsive bureaucrat James Comey should in any way compare himself to the sainted Thomas Becket, or to the man with whom he was so close and fought so relentlessly in life, his King and also a great man, Henry II, is beyond preposterous. It just shows how far into delusion leftist activists like Comey have descended in their insane efforts to depose our 45th President.
Susan Smith brings an international perspective to her writing by having lived primarily in western Europe, mainly in Paris, France, and the U.S., primarily in Washington, D.C. She authored a weekly column for Human Events on politics with historical aspects. She also served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism, and Special Assistant to the first Ambassador of Afghanistan following the initial fall of the Taliban. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University and Georgetown University, as well as the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France, where she obtained her French language certification. Ms. Smith now makes her home in McLean, Va.
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