Alan Greenspan is warning us now about the dangers of the growing deficit, when three years ago he supported the Bush giveaway of trillions to the rich. Uh huh, way to go Alan. Similarly, but in a different arena, Colin Powell caved in as the one remaining voice of reason in the Bush cabinet when he went along with the assessments of Iraq as a threat to our safety.
Both men knew they were shitting in the wind, yet both went right ahead and sold their integrity down the river. Now Powell will no doubt write a book about how hard he fought against the forces of evil within the administration and it will be a best-seller. Greenspan will console himself about the coming financial meltdown that he “warned the congress,” even though his warning came three years late and after an astonishing loss of courage over the tax cut issue.
“What could I do?” they will whine, “it’s all so complicated and no one but me knows what I’m up against.”
For starters (although it’s time now only for enders) they could have each stood up to the moral test of telling their country what they know to be right, when it’s personally painful and when a resignation might be the only way to underline the importance of a stand.
That takes guts.
The Army PFC who should have stood his ground and refused the order to mistreat prisoners is mirrored at the very top, by a general who became a diplomat and still felt the military binds to obey his “commander-in-chief.” If that PFC goes to jail and is dishonorably discharged for a “moral failure,” what is the appropriate judgment for Colin Powell, who’s moral failure penetrates the very core of his honor? Yet he will write that book, it will sell like hotcakes and he will make inspiring pronouncements about how difficult is the world of diplomacy. That’s crap, Colin.
The new guy on the desk at Price-Waterhouse or (name your favorite sleaze-firm) who cuts a corner here or delays a sale there to advantage his client or himself—and goes to jail for it, is mirrored at the very top by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve who cuts some slack for a tax break he knows to be injurious. Greenspan, a man who mumbles about “bubbles’ but never points out the one about to burst. Yet we revere this man and stand in awe of his incomprehensible language before Senate committees. That’s crap as well, Alan.
“We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.” That’s a Mark Twain quote and, like so many of his words, bears a constancy of truth that is timeless. It’s no wonder that the courage and conviction of our founders is so greatly revered and little enough wonder that our present-day leaders so thirst after that reputation. They talk about their “legacy” in an age of expedience. The fact is each man, Colin Powell and Alan Greenspan alike, had the opportunity to stand in honor and both men knelt instead to expedience.
A fact does not cease to exist because it is ignored.