Not that old Harry needs any defense. Historians now regard him as one of the better American presidents, in spite of his most famous decision and its devastating outcome. But I was aghast at my own cynicism yesterday and I want to point out when Harry cut the deal with his personal devil, Kansas City’s party boss Tom Pendergast, he was no more worse than the rest of us working stiffs who learn some dirt about our companies and don’t blow the whistle.
Hey, I was the minister of propaganda for a Fortune 500 corporation in one of my earlier incarnations. They called me the Spinmeister. The whole secret to job effectiveness was to resolutely not see the truth about each greed-driven problem of the moment. Situational ethics is another term for it. That’s all Harry did. Turned his head and looked away. In return, he was elected senator. And I’ll bet he never checked who was counting the votes.
It took Harry years to live down his reputation as Boss Tom’s tool in Congress. But he did it – he broke free of the machine. In fact, he became famous by heading the Congressional committee that investigated graft and corruption in wartime government contracts. He did a bang-up job — because he knew the score. He made the cover of Time Magazine. He was on his way.
So the moral of this moral tale is – it’s never too late. And sometimes we can use the sins and crimes of our misspent youths to do some good after all.
Labels: Meaning of Things