Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the corruption of power

I like to remind myself at times like these that there are and have been wonderful, decent, honest, men of integrity who have been U.S. Congressmen.

My freshman year at Oberlin College in Ohio, I got to know personally U.S. Congressman Don Pease because he and his wife (with their 5 year old daughter) were the dorm "parents" in my dormitory. Over the next ten years I interacted frequently with the Pease family. While I was a student at Oberlin, I was their daughter's primary babysitter, and I worked on two of Don's Congressional campaigns. After college I remained in touch and visited as often as I could.

The Peases were not rich, or even particularly affluent. They lived in modest rental housing both during his years in Congress and after he retired. Don was a staunch advocate of education, energy, environment and public transportation issues. The only "perk" I ever knew him to take from all his years of public service other than the legally defined salary, benefits and pension, was occasional passes on Amtrak, a government agency that he worked hard to promote. Don Pease was a quiet, gentle man who was beloved as both a husband and father.

So I know first hand that some office holders are not corrupted by the power of their positions. Unfortunately that cannot be said of all.

I am not one of Anthony Weiner's constituents; I've never contributed money to his campaigns; I'm not a friend or family member. But nonetheless I feel betrayed by his actions and especially by the week of lies that he told about his actions.

My sense of betrayal comes because Weiner was a vocal proponent for issues about which I passionately care. He was an eloquent, feisty, acerbic, witty, and even at times belligerent voice in Congress that said things that I would like to say, about the abuses of money, greed and power. I know now that I will never have the same level of comfort or satisfaction with Weiner's public pronouncements. When I see and hear Weiner, from now on I will always know that he is capable of bald-faced lies and deception, and wonder.

In the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Jimmy Stewart has an emotional, histrionic breakdown in front of the Senate. We accept this in the context of the movie because we have been shown that this is a man who always tells the truth, a man of integrity. Take away the integrity, and all you have is noise, bluster and showmanship.

I am sad and angry both. We don't take well to finding out our heroes are liars.


Glenda said...

Sue, you've posted my sentiments exactly. The action itself is one thing, but the deceit and lies are worse in my opinion. I was very disappointed in this man who I thought had a lot to offer.

Maggie May said...

Well, I can't comment on this particular thing but all I know is that corruption is world wide and knows no boundaries.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

beth said...

Seems like every week there is yet one more story about someone in a leadership role who has lied about his or her bad behavior. When did integrity become such a rare commodity!!