D.C. Chestnuts™

If you want to find out the dirt from “insiders”, this is not the place! BUT...

It is, however, the place for observations from seasoned ex insiders with concerns about the lack of accountability for and possible implications from actions or non-actions taken, laws enacted or abandoned, and changes being considered or made to the status quo.


Ultimate Responsibility, Does The White House Lie?

What makes the false statements in the state of the Union address so damaging:

1.) Intention: The President used known miss-facts to make a case for war in Iraq.
2.) Credibility: Using false facts to justify going to war is pure manipulation.
3.) Responsibility: The President said it. He owns it.

Loyal readers of The Inner Bottom Line have asked the same questions over and over in the past few weeks regarding the state of the Union address and the erroneous facts:

"He's in charge. Don't you think he's responsible for what he says? What is going on?

"The Inner Bottom Line" column of July 27, 2003, entitled "Ultimate Responsibility," had this to say:

While The Inner Bottom Line does not make political statements, the questions focus upon issues clearly ethical and not partisan, thus putting them directly and appropriately on the line.

And the most succinct and accurate response starts with a quote from President Harry S. Truman, "The buck stops here."

While there is no doubt that in the end there will be a number of people blamed for this mess, from an ethical perspective, the President said it. Therefore, he owns it. At the end of the day, bottom line on The Inner Bottom Line, he's responsible.

But his reaction and subsequent behavior?? Let's apply an impartial definition of leadership and its primary responsibility to those being led to the office of President. This primary leader, whose office was intended by our founding fathers to represent the essence of our country's will, heart and soul, has the gravest responsibility of anyone to be credible, accountable and above reproach to those who gave him the privilege and power of that office.

A good leader not only gives commands; a good leader listens to the response to those commands. A real leader doesn't desert his people and hang them out to dry when mistakes are made. He steps to the front of the line and takes the bullet rather than hanging back in the safety of shadows while others take the hit.

In the current climate of corporate scandals and sleaze, arrogance has now exceeded its own definition. Tawdry, dishonest, even criminal behavior is rewarded with national media attention and often huge, financial gains. And to have questionable motives once again extend into the White House has renewed and raised a public level of mistrust and unease.

Along with not taking responsibility for what was said, the President's actions raise another even more disturbing issue. Intention. On The Inner Bottom Line, everything comes down to power, control, and fear. And intention. Behind your actions and words, what you intend determines whether or not people trust you. If your intentions aren't pure, if you're manipulating, you'll eventually get back exactly what you don't want. Is this is the beginning of that comeuppance?

If the President had made an erroneous statement in the State of the Union address that misquoted numbers, statistics, or trends, for instance, on a minor policy issue, it might be more easily written off to very sloppy research, writing or delivery. Though equally not acceptable, he's done it before and will probably do it again. But this misinformation was part of a serious declaration designed with one deadly purpose: to convince the American public to support the need and this administration's determination to go to war. Given the critical nature of that mission, there is simply no ethical excuse that can be made why every single word in that document was not vetted for as long as necessary until not a shred of doubt remained about the validity and proof of each and every syllable.

And that brings us to another key issue. The importance and impact of this particular speech. While the mistake would not have been acceptable in any speech, the State of the Union address is the single most important speech the President of our country makes to the American people and the world, except perhaps for the Inaugural Address. Every word, every nuance, is listened to, analyzed and pondered. There is simply no room for error. And certainly no room for error when the issue of war is at stake. So beyond the alleged botched forgery and erroneous facts, the evidence and depth of the unprofessional sloppiness of this whole affair is deeply troubling and problematic.

Where has it all gone wrong in general? Since there isn't room in my new book, "A Simple Path to The Good Life" to completely deal with that question, I can only state, in the most simplistic terms, that our culture has very screwed up values today.

What can we do in the face of this kind of blatant hypocrisy? The only things we have complete power, control and choice to do. Use our voices, resources and right to vote to be heard. And stand on and honor our own Inner Bottom Line. In the end, that's all that matters. When you know what you value, there are no doubts how to vote. If every single person in this world took responsibility for their own actions and words and treated themselves and others with respect and integrity, the world would be a much better place. But when power, control and fear, abetted by money, gets into the brew, we end up with what we are have today.

As for feeling depressed that no voice seems to be rising up to say something? It is oddly, even phenomenally quiet out there. And the silence is eerie and a bit scary. While the cock-eyed optimist in me keeps believing that a fresh, new voice will find the power and support to rise above the silence, I keep hoping that if and when it comes, we'll be able to hear and recognize it when it speaks. So keep questioning, keep listening and remain hopeful and proactive. Get others involved, don't be hesitant to voice your opinions, and stand by what you value most. We've prevailed before. We must again.