Friday, December 12, 2008

The "Bleeps" Are Redacted

Patrick Fitzgerald is my hero. He has just been kicking ass and taking names, and he has a clean-cut, Elliot Ness demeanor to boot. At a press conference a few days ago he read portions of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's expletive-spiced phone conversations, and concluded one such quotation with the statement, "...the 'bleeps' are redacted."

Gov. Blagojevich's behavior is appalling, and indicative of a sociopathy that is all-too common among the political and corporate leadership classes (for an example of the latter, look at the Big Three CEOs, who flew their private jets to DC to ask Congress for their bailout – that was not merely a PR blunder). When sociopaths finally get their comeuppance, they look completely clueless; their lack of awareness of other people, which is often what enables them to rocket forward in their careers, is also a type of stupidity, and, when they finally get nailed, they shrink, in our eyes, from intimidating figures to little idiots.

In Illinois, Fitzgerald comes out a hero, further raises his profile, and moves that much closer to his ultimate career goals, whatever they may be. While we can talk about the two men's ethics from a strictly moralistic perspective, I prefer to point out that this scandal is a lesson in short-term vs. long-term gain: the fat-cat pol demanding illegal cash vs. the hard-working US Attorney steadily building a case. Who comes out on top in the end? And I don't mean to ask who wins in this case; imagine that Fitzgerald and Blagojevich are completely unrelated. Nor do I mean to ask who gains in a karmic sense. Rather, the two men's different approaches to life can show us that we gain in the here and now by doing the right thing. Doing the wrong thing is a result of limited intelligence and imagination.

I realize that this may be a rather idealistic proposition; for one thing, as Mr. Rogers said, "good people do bad things," especially in difficult circumstances. For another, there are plenty of Blagojeviches in the world, and they distort the "doing well by doing good" input-output loop. I say this assuming that Gov. Blagojevich is not an example of a good person who did a bad thing, in which case it's troubling to think about what else Gov. Blagojevich has done that we will never know about. Reminds me of what they say about cockroaches: for every one you see, there are 10,000 others.

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