Historic Campaign for Mr. Obama
As the epic battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton winds down, we are left with an equal amount of exhiliration and bad taste. It is like eating a cream puff that was mistakenly filled with soy bean paste instead of custard cream. On the outside it looks great, and even the first bite is delicious; that is, until you bite through the puff.
This campaign will be noted as the one that was defined by the Internet Age--Blogs, Facebook, and YouTube videos. Events were uploaded into the world-wide-web in real time, and billions of people had instant access, gave equally instant feedback, and the media had no problem picking and choosing the content to feed the hungry public.
In the midst of this, news and reality TV became one and the same. I wonder what Walter Cronkite would say if he saw how the cable news channels pass on opinion pieces as news with their dozens of experts and pundits filling the overabundant air time with talking points.
Clinton was never as good as they said she was, and she was never the witch they made her to be. Obama was articulate, but was no second coming of Jesus, although many on MSNBC and CNN seemed to believe otherwise. Throughout the campaign season, no one in the media dared ask them a serious question like--would you prosecute the Bush Administration for War Crimes if there is evidence of Presidential authorization of torture? or would you find a way to legalize the millions of undocumented workers? or could the two of you find a way to compromise on your healthcare plans?
Since five years ago, it seems that the media has abdicated its role of critical questioning, and instead, going along with the propaganda that it is fed--first by the Bush Admnistration's march to war and now by the American Idol stardom afforded to the Democratic nominee. Without the watchdogs, our democracy becomes weaker, as we found out for the last seven years.
I watched an interview of the Nixon White House Legal Counsel, John Dean, on PBS the other day (remember Watergate?). I had no idea if this interview was new or old. I was just enthralled by his message--that it was the combination of blind loyalty, incompetence, and arrogance that brought down the Nixon Administration.
I look around us to see if these traits exist. Perhaps there is more than a dash of those in the Bush White House, although the loyalties seem to dissipate after they quit. Maybe at Countrywide or even Yahoo. Businesses are not immune to these stupidities, as we found out six years ago.
Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. It was historic legislation to bring some order to the capital markets, and to make sure that ENRON doesn't happen again. But it soon became the accountants' full employment act, and an exercise in futility that many CFO's will admit was a monumental waste of their time and resources. Of couse, they will simply say that it was "costly."
Has anything been done to deal with "blind loyalty, incompetence, and arrogance" since then? That is a question worth asking. With the sub-prime melt-down, soaring gas prices, and a recession in the works, business executives will need to work extra hard to survive, but also to make themselves accountable and transparent.
Returning our attention to politics, there is a historic opportunity facing Mr. Obama should he prevail in November. Through accountability and transparency, I hope that he will not fall prey to those three sins.