Loyalty is one of the great virtues in life. We offer it to, and expect it from, our families and close friends.
In government, we expect it from colleagues, but to a lesser degree. But even in government and the workplace, it would be impossible to function if you believed that everyone with whom you worked was morally free to publicly disclose your every offhand statement or indiscretion.
If you knew a colleague was capable of such actions, you would avoid him or her like the plague. You would think twice before saying or doing anything in that person's presence. You would consider such a person loathsome.
Understand that I am not discussing criminal acts committed by a co-worker. If the acts are in any way criminal, they should be reported immediately so they can be stopped and the wrongdoer prosecuted. I am referring to indiscretions, embarrassing moments, personal or professional, that all of us are subject to.
What am I leading up to with this prologue? I am referring to the tell-all book by President Bush's former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan.
I have not read the book and do not intend to. My comments are based on the many interviews of McClellan about his book and to the news reports and articles that I have read commenting on it.
McClellan announced on April 19, 2006 he was leaving his position as press secretary to the president. He seemed to be departing under the friendliest of terms, and announced his departure with President Bush at his side. It was clear at the time that he was proud of his service and that his leaving was painful to his patron, the president.
If, at the time he was leaving, he had intimated or stated that he was doing so because his professional standards were being violated by his colleagues in government who were encouraging him to lie, and in which he did not want to participate, I would applaud his subsequently writing his memoir detailing his observations. But that is not what occurred.
McClellan left on what appeared to be the best of terms. According to Tim Russert on “Meet The Press” this past Sunday, McClellan’s first book proposal stated that he was writing a memoir supportive of the Bush administration. If, for historical reasons, McClellan wanted, with the passage of a reasonable time and not to affect an election to be held in a few months, to provide his experiences to set the record straight, I would applaud his candor. But to do what he has done is to damn himself and his name forever. To do a "Scott McClellan" should, from now on, be a way of describing someone engaged in an act of treachery and disloyalty.
I found the single worst act of McClellan to be his revealing an overheard telephone conversation between the president and a caller that McClellan overheard because he was press secretary, with free passage at the White House. The call concerned the president’s younger days and the alleged use of cocaine. According to The New York Times, McClellan “recount[ed] a phone conversation between Mr. Bush and a political supporter in which, he says, he overheard the president dismiss ‘ridiculous campaign rumors’ about accusations of cocaine use by saying he could not recall if he had tried the drug. ‘We had some pretty wild parties back in the day,’ Mr. McClellan writes, recounting Mr. Bush’s words, ‘and I just don’t remember.’”
I don’t know whether McClellan wrote it down at the time, word for word, or recalled it at a later time. The first possibility is even the more loathsome. In either case, such treachery is unforgivable and unacceptable.
Sen. Bob Dole, commenting on Scott McClellan, summed up the feelings of most people when he said, “There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues. No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits; and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.”
Sect Kids Should Not Have Been Removed
The action of the state of Texas in removing 468 children from their parents because their parents were polygamists is deplorable. The separation of those children, some in their first few years of life, will undoubtedly scar them for life.
The reason given by the state, according to The New York Times, was that the “state asserted that all children were at risk because they were being indoctrinated into a pattern of sexual abuse — the young girls as victims, and the boys as predators.”
The legal question is, What is the power of the state to prevent three or more people, in this case, one male and several women, from living together as a family with the adults having sex, so long as they don’t secure a state-approved marriage for more than one couple, and thus commit bigamy?
There are millions of Americans — a recent member of Congress from New York was revealed to have two households with two different women and children as well — who are living with more than one woman. They are not, so far as I know, breaking the law.
It is only in the armed forces that adultery is prosecuted as a crime. So, unless the polygamists seek marriage licenses, I don’t see how the state can stop them from continuing to cohabit.
The Texas Supreme Court deserves the nation’s applause for returning the seized children to their parents while maintaining jurisdiction of the matter, so as to be able to act if the situation warrants.
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