A Tragic Failure of Leadership

Don’t look now, but the liberal establishment is shocked and appalled by the lies, short-cuts and self-interested behavior of many corporate leaders these past five or so years. I appreciate their finally joining the chorus of those of us who have been saying these past five years that the behavior of our nation’s leaders really does matter.

I remember being told – no lectured – that the drive to hold Bill Clinton accountable for his appalling behavior was misguided and dangerous. I also remember the president of the United States, looking into the camera and demanding that the American people listen to him and then telling us all a premeditated, bald-faced lie. I remember watching him lie to a federal grand jury, and being told that it was not an impeachable offense.

It turns out, the conduct, behavior, and moral tone of our leaders really does matter. The stock market is ruthlessly efficient in driving home that point – as the accounting scandals have resulted in a dramatic loss of investor confidence, which has resulted in lost jobs for the unsuspecting employees of these – and other – companies.

Now the liberals want to pile-on and attempt to gain political advantage from the largest corporate accounting scandal and tragedy in our nation’s history. Shame on them. And shame on them for several reasons. First, if you are truly disgusted by the ethical lapses of individuals in positions of responsibility, where were you on presidential perjury? What about Travelgate, Whitewater, filegate, White House coffees, the Lincoln bedroom? Weren’t we told all this was ok, because the economy was booming?

The sad fact is the president of the United States set an “anything goes” ethical tone in the 1990s that said if you were making money, you were, by definition, succeeding. Tragically, some greedy, overly ambitious, unscrupulous, and slick corporate CEOs followed Clinton’s lead and deliberately and brazenly committed fraud. In essense, they and their auditors looked into the camera and wagged their finger at us, and lied. And, just as Bill Clinton should have been impeached, these people should go to jail.

But the liberal’s shame goes beyond their silence on the Clinton scandals. They remain worse than silent on a massive government accounting sham – the future of Social Security. They are actually planning on using the shaky finances as a political weapon against President Bush and his allies in the Congress that support Social Security reform.

Social Security is headed towards bankruptcy. That means that for worker’s who today are paying 15 percent of their income into the system, there will be nothing left – unless the government raises taxes, cuts benefits, or moves money from one account to another.

The American people have been told that there is a Social Security trust fund. And in accounting sense, there is a trust fund. And for thirty years of Democrat control of the Congress, in an accounting sense, Congress spent the Social Security surplus on other government programs. But the politicians also know that there is no actual Social Security trust Fund. There is no “lock box” filled with cash the government has saved for the future. All there is, in reality, is an accounting fiction and lots of IOUs. It might not be fraud in the criminal sense of the word, but it is certainly an accounting sham.

President Bush has had the courage to face this impending bankruptcy – both as a candidate and as president. And the liberals are planning on throwing everything they have got at him as a reward for his act of plain-spoken responsibility. Everything includes using the corporate accounting scandals as a reason to do nothing on the government’s own accounting sham.

Liberals will brazenly run ads claiming that President Bush and his allies will try and do to Social Security what Bernie Ebbers did to WorldComm. And the truth is just the opposite. By ruthlessly opposing Social Security reform the liberals are placing the very future of Social Security in jeopardy and continuing the accounting charade.

Unless the advocates of Social Security reform are willing to stand and fight and beat back these horrendous scare tactics, America will suffer through another round of failed leadership. And, we as Americans will be the ones who pay the inevitable price.