Forgive and forget – or just forget …

Politicians – don’t ya just love ’em?

I’ve noticed a somewhat alarming trend among our kinder and gentler politicos and smooth-talking business leaders in recent months.

Whenever the nation is hit with a sweeping fiscal disaster, energy crisis or piece of incredibly inept – if not criminal – legislative chicanery, a silver-tongued spokesman will step up to the podium and urge the public to take the high road and help get America back on track without pointing fingers or trying to assign blame.

Just last week, California Gov. Gray “I’m not a weasel!” Davis expressed a similar sentiment while trying to explain the energy crisis that recently descended over the Golden State and threatened to darken all our microwave ovens forever.

Although Gov. Davis didn’t really explain very much about how the whole mess came about, he made it clear that it was time for Californians to quit worrying about the culprits and start looking for a solution to the problem.

An admirable stand, to be sure – one of those opportunities for the state to “heal” while we roll up our sleeves and salvage the situation with plenty of good old American know-how.

After all, these things happen. Pointing fingers and assigning blame isn’t really going to help, is it?

Hey, we all make these kind of innocent mistakes. Anyone can misplace a few thousand election ballots or accidentally spend $785 in taxpayer money on a 25-cent sheet metal screw.

Wasn’t it just last month that you inadvertently sold millions of barrels of Alaska crude oil to Asia in a completely innocent attempt to raise gasoline prices up on the West Coast? Or was that your brother Merle?

Yes, this could happen to any of us, amigos …

There is, however, a downside to this kind of no-fault attitude.

It’s one thing to focus on fixing a problem and getting on with the business of America, but if you don’t know who was responsible for the problem in the first place, that duly elected doofus or corporate con man will simply go on dropping ball bearings into the nation’s gear box.

Everyone’s going to forgive and forget except the perpetrator who, either through malice or stupidity, will continue to repeat his indiscretions until somebody points a finger and says “Don’t dooooo that, maaaaaan!” and follows it up with a tastefully written grand jury indictment.

Accountability is something that’s central to both good government and good business. Without it, this country is headed for a future of shining mediocrity.

As heartless as it may seem, I think it’s most definitely time to start demanding accountability from the public and private sector again.

Admittedly, in today’s cuddly “Aw, shucks …” environment, it may be difficult to once again start pointing fingers and assigning blame for multibillion-dollar boondoggle, but the time has come.

And don’t throw in the towel if you can’t think of anyone to blame for anything right away. After all, Bill Clinton’s still got almost a week in office …

Originally published January 14, 2001

One thought on “Forgive and forget – or just forget …

  1. I don’t know how or why Brian was never scooped up by the New York Times. His words are timeless, especially the political ones like this one. Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere . Miss you, Hamlin.

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