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Nickels and dimes

The first half day of the much-awaited Easley hearings have produced no truly sensational revelations, but it seems pretty clear that the former Guv was at least guilty of playing it stupidly and ridiculously fast and loose with the rules.

This, of course, begs the question: Why does it always seem to go down this way? Why do smart, talented public officials with plenty of money and resources at their disposal always seem to go down over nickels and dimes? A used SUV for the kid? Why not just pay for the damned thing? Why feel compelled to cut some kind of good ol’ boy deal with a friendly car dealer to pay him when you were “done using it”? Home repairs? Free airplane rides?

Whether it’s reckless sexual behavior or accepting trinkets from hangers on, it seems as if it always happens this way — powerful politicians fall as the result of stupid, all-too-human behavior rather than because of large conspiracies or transgressions related to their offices.

Perhaps we need to establish a new state office: that of the Official State Psychotherapist. His or her job would be counsel high state officials so that they could work through all of their internal demons and spare the rest of us from having to hear about them later on.

3 Comments


  1. Alex

    October 27, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I was at an office building yesterday. No one was around. A twenty dollar bill was taped to the front door with a note saying “Found in the lobby” I read the note and went on my way. I thought how much twenty dollars would mean to me and hoped the original owner would get it back. When I came down the note and bill were still there.

    The greed I see on the news everyday sickens me. Why do people do these things? Simply because they can.

  2. Steve Harrison

    October 27, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I believe our current election system, with its core reliance on money hungrily collected and spent, will continue to produce ethically confused politicians like Mike Easley. Without serious and substantial reform, the costs of running a successful campaign will continue to grow, and the ethical compromises will grow with it.

    So then the politician moves to the next step, which is the ethical “balance sheet”, an easily manipulated tool for rationalization. As Robert Penn Warren wrote:

    “And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.”

  3. Rob Schofield

    October 27, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Amen, Steve.

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