Sunday, February 20, 2005

Implications of Revelation of Surreptitiously-Taped Bush Conversations?

The personal lives of public leaders can, I believe, be relevant to discussions of their qualifications for office. This is the case, it seems to me, when:
  • the figure is guilty of criminal behavior
  • the figure continues addictive behaviors that could impair judgment
  • habitual behaviors raise questions about trustworthiness
Unfortunately though, a society which increasingly has no standards for public behavior has made every aspect of public figures' private lives fair game for public airing. When you don't know what's right or wrong and when celebrities are viewed as commodities like sausage or computers, every aspect of public figures' lives are susceptible to display in the media, mainstream and otherwise.

Persons catering, for whatever reason, to this voyeuristic culture, are likelier than not to find an audience.

I bring this up because of the revelation of conversations that then-Governor George W. Bush thought were private and were taped without his knowledge or consent. The Bloomberg account of this story notes:
"Then-governor Bush was having casual conversations with someone he thought was a friend,'' White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in an e-mailed statement last night.
It's tough to have friends when the opportunity for notoriety and cash makes betrayal so alluring.

One must wonder what the future of our public life holds if our elected leaders no longer feel safe in seeking counsel, testing ideas, or letting their hair down in what are meant to be private discussions.

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