S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

When the magic is over . . .

When reputation is lost, things are not the same any more. -- Today's post looks at the current news about lost reputations, and the resulting loss of illusion among those who had believed in them. The reputation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer in the crusader community was shredded in just a matter of days by revelations of his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. The reputation of Senator Clinton in the Democratic community is under attack because of the candidate's lukewarm criticism of the hurtfully dismissive comments about Senator Obama's candidacy by her former surrogate, former VP candidate, Geraldine Ferraro. The reputation of the U.S. in the world community has been in decline almost since the turn of the century. In all three cases, when the magic is over there is hell to pay.

Why is the price so high? It is hard to live with disillusionment. We want to think the best about those leaders in whom we place our trust to do the right thing. We are willing to be followers of those who merit their good reputations because they are believed to be among those who will do the right things. But when we find out that is not the case, the magic is over. Things are not the same thereafter for loyal followers.

Eliot Spitzer -- The former governor of New York made his reputation by rooting out white collar law-breakers, often the last to be found out in our corporation-run society. The hypocrisy of Spitzer's apparent double standard, and the use of his own methods against him, brought this leader down in a matter of just days. To quote from Intel Dump:

Follow the money. That's the age-old guidance for prosecutors, investigators and journalists who want to get to the bottom of anything. If you can find and document the money trail for any organization, you can usually figure out what it's doing, why, and prove it in court.

According to yesterday's New York Times, that's precisely how the federal government first learned of NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer's indiscretions and alleged criminal conduct. A "suspicious activity report" was filed with the IRS — not because someone suspected him of sexual improprieties, but because his bank thought he might have been hiding cash, possibly the result of corrupt activity.

Senator Hillary Clinton -- The Clintons have had a reputation as fighters for civil rights and helpers in the advancement of opportunities for African Americans since former President Bill Clinton took office. The Clinton administration made far more progress than any other administration in integrating African Americans into positions of true power in that administration and in governance in general. And Senator Clinton's apologies may or may not be enough to repair the damage. Memorandum has the late-evening 3/12 story"Clinton Apologizes to Black Voters," here via and Devlin Barrett at the AP. To quote:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did something Wednesday night that she almost never does. She apologized. And once she started, she didn't seem able to stop.

The New York senator, who is in a tight race with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, struck several sorry notes at an evening forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of more than 200 black community newspapers across the country.

U.S President George W. Bush -- The decline of the reputation of the United States as the nation to whom all others look for leadership seems unprecedented in history. The current administration's record of torture, lying, law-breaking, fiscal profligacy, and subversion of world community institutions would be hard to top by any subsequent administration. To quote an article in the International Herald Tribune (3/12/08):

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene, says that whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States' battered image and standing overseas, but that "the magic is over."

When the magic is over, we have several choices of action. We can deny that anything is different, hoping against hope that "this is all a bad dream." We can pile on, getting caught up in endless cycles of recrimination. Or we can allow ourselves to feel angry for a time about being disillusioned, and then move on to acceptance and forgiveness (not for the offender but for ourselves). Remember, just the passage of time alone can make things better if we allow it by letting go.

View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.

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(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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