Friday, July 30, 2010

737 Clearing Your Name

737 Clearing Your Name

Earlier, this space talked about the idiotic defense of the definitely not idiotic Representative Charles Rangel and the idiotic defense of the definitely and idiotically crooked government of Bell, California. Conceptually, they were the same defense. And it's always like that. "I can't wait to get to court to defend and clear my good name" is a phrase from every politician and every other crook who gets caught. And we in the news business fall for it every time. Or at least allow the statement to stand without challenge most of the time.

Here are a few examples: "I'm innocent." -- Al Capone. "I am merely a plumbing supply salesman." -- John Gotti. "Follow me around. I don't care... If anyone wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." -- Gary Hart. "I want to tell my story..." -- Kenneth Lay. "I have a wide stance." --Former Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho.) "...I'm proud of the life I've lived so far... I have no regrets." Political candidate Carly Fiorina (R-California) on the near destruction of two iconic American corporations while she headed them.

Happens all the time. How refreshing would it be to hear some honcho say "Yeah, I screwed up. If I have to do time, so be it." Not every use of this concept is a defense against possible jail time. Sometimes it's just a page from the book of "a good offense." But it's an insult to the intelligence of the people addressed. Rangel didn't say outright that he "welcomed his day" on trial, but it was implicit in everything he did say. The leadership of Bell most certainly did say it in various forms. So did Capone, Gotti, Hart, Lay, Craig and Fiorina. Surely you have examples from your own geographic area.

This raises an important question: what do these worms think of us? Oh, you can defend any one of them you choose. Capone and Gotti: prosecutors had little evidence until the last in a series of trials. Lay and Fiorina: they were trying save their company. Craig and Hart: Who cares who they're in bed with, it's none of our business. But they must think we're idiots. Do they really believe we're going to believe them?

Maybe the most direct and brazen was from Richard Nixon: "Your President is not a crook."


Shrapnel:

--The Wall Street Journal says Goldman has banned "objectionable" words in e-mails. We had that at Bloomberg years ago and when we typed a banned word and tried to send the mail, the machine would immediately send up a screen that said "xxxx is inappropriate for business communications," and you couldn't send the email until you corrected your "error." Which is how the words "da*n" and "sh*t" got into common electronic usage there.

--Amish farmers have staged their annual invasion, trucking in cartons of fresh vegetables for sale. All come in motor vehicles. What happened to the horses and buggies, and the ban on modernity?

--And speaking of bans: The FAA has banned low flights over Chelsea Clinton's upcoming wedding. So, the tabloids will have to find other means to snap. In the meantime, no one much knows what Marc Mezvinsky looks like and aerial pictures wouldn't do much to change that.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010




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