'His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes'

Former FBI director James Comey tries his hand as an author.

'His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assume he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coiffed, bright blond hair, which on close inspection looked to be all his. I remember wondering how long it must take him in the morning to get that done.'

So writes sacked James Comey about you-know-who in his forthcoming book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, which will be released on May 1.

His publisher, Macmillan, has released a few preview snippets, including the above, plus a number of passages comparing Trump to a mafia boss.

Of his January 2017 one-on-one dinner at the White House with the president, where Trump allegedly implied the FBI director could continue in his job if he dropped the Russia probe, Comey writes, “To my mind, the demand was like Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony – with Trump in the role of the family boss, asking me if I have what it takes to be a ‘made man’.”

Comey even takes aim at the president's height ("shorter than he seemed on a debate stage") and the size of his hands ("smaller than mine").

This is all great for Trump.

Attacks on his physical appearance, and tabloid speculation on his personal manner, all help his thesis that Comey (actually a Republican) is biased against him and out to get him.

And it made it easier for Trump to keep things on a schoolyard slanging match level in his response (he took to Twitter, with his trademark lack of presidential dignity, to call Comey "an untruthful slimeball.")

It's so easy to mock the president's personal foibles (heck, I've been guilty of it myself this week). But in the end, he only feeds off it. 

Time and time again, it distracts from the real issues.

You could say the fake tan is a metaphor for the president's compulsion to mislead, or the that his mafia-like (as Comey puts it) habit of dominating conversation is part of a deeper conspiracy to silence people. But, equally, you could say the president is just vain and egotistical.

A review by the New York Times (which has had the benefit of reading the whole memoir) calls Higher Loyalty "persuasive" and 'cinematic," but qualifies that it "offers little in the way of hard news revelations."

A much drier effort from Comey would have been more effective at pushing his case for what remain serious allegations of obstruction of justice.

But, of course, it would have been a much tougher sell for Macmillan, which needs to recoup its advance (put at $US2.5 million by the usually Wall Street Journal, and up to $US10 million elsewhere).

Comey and Macmillan also face the wider problem (which also afflicted Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury) that the whirligig chaos of the Trump White House throws up a fresh controversy every few days, always pushing the last book, scandal or Twitter meltdown or firing out of the spotlight.

Even I type, the growing brouhaha around Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is pushing Comey off the front pages.

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