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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, July 01, 2002

It's Great to Be Back

I hate to get back and immediately find myself in disagreement with my main man, Josh Marshall. Regrettably, his post on Bill Clinton's effect on corporate ethics leaves me vaguely unsatisfied.

"Why did high-rolling CEOs and CFOs and in-house accountants fraudulently inflate profits? Single-minded focus on market capitalization? Weak regulatory oversight? Poor business ethics? No, it was Bill Clinton and all that unfortunate business with Monica Lewinsky. Apparently the former president just led Ebbers and Lay and their minions down the primrose path. ...

Who knew corporate America was so impressionable? And took their lead from Bill Clinton?"

OK, I admit it. People are responsible for their own choices. Also, the White House can help set a tone in this country, or reinforce an existing one, but I do not think so highly of its powers as to believe it can create a tone. However, in a highly imaginative bit of selective excerpting from today's NY Times piece titled "Choosing Whether to Cover-Up or Come Clean", I offer this:

"That sense of rule-breaking can trickle down, said Mr. Platt, underscoring the importance of integrity at the top. Because business has become so complex, "It's probably easier than ever before to make a mistake," he said.... "That's where the tone from the top becomes important.""

I think Josh needs to get past his obsession with Monica and join me in contemplating whether Hillary's commodity trading, the "Flying Dutchman" billing records, and the 1996 campaign fundraising with the Indonesian money, the Chinese money, the Lincoln Bedroom overnights, and the "no controlling legal authority" ethic helped or hindered the creation of an "anything goes" environment in this country.

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