'Tis the season to be righteous. Resignations are flowing in. And in every case, the "resigner" – or is that "the resigned"? – has not "taken responsibility" for the woes experienced during his tenure. Let's look at what happened in August.
On Monday, August 27th, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally capitulated to a furious Congress and a puzzled nation convinced that the nation's highest Justice Department official had perjured himself at worse, and was an incompetent leader at best. His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his "non-involvement" in the firings of eight federal prosecutors , including San Diego's Carol Lam , was halting, unsure, unconvincing, and ultimately unsettling to his role as Attorney General. That was compounded by Gonzales' strange bedside visit to former Attorney General John Ashcroft who was seriously ill, indeed in intensive care, but who refused to legalize the President's no-warrant wire-tapping. The question remains whether Gonzales tried to pressure the sick man to certify Bush's surveillance program. Gonzales insists he did not intentionally mislead Congress and thus he is not taking responsibility for the years of government scandals since his appointment.
Next, there's Karl Rove, labeled by President Bush " the architect " for his role in building the political structure that won two White House victories. His power was legendary and he, like Gonzales, was a close friend of George Bush. In fact, as evidence surfaced that Rove was involved in leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent , and despite the president's promise that any administration official linked to that case would be fired, Rove remained in his job and was never charged. Yet, during the four years of the investigation, his ability to shore up the president weakened, and the plummeting polls reflected Bush's sinking popularity. On August 13th, Mr Rove revealed that it was time to quit as of the end of this month. His only reason was " for the sake of my family ." Responsibility for the political tailspin that the Bush administration found itself in was never mentioned.
And finally, we turn to the President of the University of California. During Dr. Robert Dynes ' four-year tenure, the respected university was pummeled by scandal after scandal related to the costly bonuses and perks bestowed on some administrators and faculty members . Somehow, Dynes' boss, the Board of Regents, was ineffective at reining in the profligate spending of many millions of public dollars at the same time that student fees were hiked to record levels. Dr. Dynes announced his resignation on the same day that Karl Rove pulled out, citing that " the direction of my personal life has changed substantially in the last couple of years ." Not a word about taking responsibility for UC's much criticized lucrative payouts under his watch.
Perhaps taking responsibility is out of style – politically.
Gloria Penner is KPBS' director of public affairs. She's been covering local, state and national politics in one form or other (radio, TV, and now the Web) for 37 years. Please read our guidelines before posting comments.
September 03, 2007 at 11:36 AM
Talk about rotten apples spoiling the whole bushel. These "indescretions" of power would almost lead one to believe the fabric of our Country is coming apart, much like what happens in all civilizations, [like the fall of Rome] when they get too rich, too big and too prosperous. On the otherhand, statistically, are these times really any different than any other recent times...with failures of leadership, both personal and professional? Simply stated, I believe most Americans are better than their leaders. -----