Friday, May 26, 2006

Humble Pie

George & Tony and Ken & Jeff! How have the mighty fallen? Some would say not yet far enough, but it's a start.

First, Bush, I didn't catch your appearance live last night, with your British co-conspirator, but I did see those short clips on the morning news. On the face of things, at first, it seemed quite genuine when you expressed regret for that cocky cowboy talk of the early days, when you were still politically riding high: things like "dead or alive" and "bring it on." (I think you actually said "Bring 'em on," but same difference.)

Okay. Thanks for the acknowledgment--even though you took it back immediately by insisting that your words had been "misinterpreted." Really? My impression is that they were interpreted quite correctly throughout the world. The message was clear and unambiguous, the tone deliberate. And the regret, finally, began to sound a lot more like political contingency. Again.

For me, it's also not enough to regret the talk--as if the words themselves were the only real mistake. No, what I would need to hear is the same regret for the actions that you took and the lies you used to justify those actions; for the lives that were lost and the lives that were destroyed as a result of those actions--as rash and arrogant as the words; and for the lives that are still being lost--another nine today, as a car bomb explodes in a busy market place in Baghdad. You seem to want us to believe that you've learned some humility through this experience, but the policy remains unchanged and its results continue to be no less dire.

As for Ken and Jeff, again I missed the news last night, so I haven't yet seen or read a full report. But from where I stand, their arrogance and their tyrannical rule at Enron is a reflection of the same culture that created you and elevated you to the position you now hold. It's the claw-your-way-to-the-top, win-at-any-cost, screw-the-competition ethic that has perverted and poisoned so much that is good in this country in recent years: the freedom to develop one's own skills and strengths in endlessly creative ways, the reward for vision, hard work and dedication... Such things have degenerated into ruthless competition and insatiable money-grubbing.

It must have been deeply humiliating for these proud men to hear the verdict of their jury yesterday: guilty. Lies were told, reckless actions taken. Lives were destroyed as a result. Sound familiar? Do this pair still genuinely believe--as you do, Bush? And as they continue to insist--that they have done nothing wrong? That it was just the image that was misrepresented, words that were misinterpreted? That everything would have been fine if they'd just managed to maintain the facade? That the whole Enron debacle was the result of no more than personal disloyalty and a hostile press?

I hope we might all learn something from yesterday's serving of humble pie in such high places. My fear is that, given positions of such influence and privilege, even this dessert, no matter how humble, will still be served with a topping of whipped cream and a bright red cherry for you special boys.

1 comment:

PK said...

Don't think he really wanted to say any of what he did Peter. He only put it out there because his newbie told him to for the sake of elections. His new spin Dr. is trying to soften his image, trying to get him down in history as a truth teller. Bush knows the waves of impeachment are coming his way, along with getting rid of Cheney and Rummy. He'd better get a lot more contrite than what he is pretending to be. Best he show some real emotion for a change, along with administrative policy change. Since I don't think that is going to come around any time real soon, guess I'll sit back and watch the play to the end.