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MANY WHO RELIED ON THE STERLING reputation Jack built from his youth stand now accused as guilty of consorting with this sleazy character, Jack Abramoff.
That’s a bum rap against some conservatives who relied on his good reputation. He may have betrayed and damaged them, but they should not be dragged down by the guilt-by-association method.
Fortunately for me, I never had any business relations with him or any contact with his lobbying activities. But before allegations regarding his business and lobbying activities arose, I and everyone I know who knew Jack since he was a college student 26 years ago would have given him a highly favorable recommendation.
Those who knowingly consort with sleazy people are culpable. Those who associate with people whom they know have good reputations are not. That does not, however, prevent the unfair use of the guilt-by-association technique by the opponents of even the most scrupulous people.
Political activists and leaders have no secure defense against the possibility that some associate who has a fine reputation will somehow succumb to disgraceful temptations.
When the newspapers began to publish and re-publish excerpts from Jack’s emails regarding his lobbying business, I could not believe he had written them. Surely, I thought, someone has made up those emails to smear Jack.
Sadly, over time it has become clear that he has behaved in ways highly disappointing to those, like me, who knew and admired him from his youth.
A principled person does not discuss his clients with contempt. A careful person does not send out personally damning emails into the immortal cyberworld. A moral person does not support opposing sides in order to profit from each. An ethical person does not defraud his associates in business. A loyal person does not set up his friends for embarrassment.
JACK ABRAMOFF’S FALL FROM GRACE is not unique. Sadly, I know too many examples of people who built good reputations and extensive political networks who changed dramatically and for the worse when they decided to earn their livings through lobbying or political consulting.
A great many people can’t resist temptations to increase their income. They hire themselves out to people or causes they would have spurned in the days when they built their reputations by consistent adherence to well-defined political and moral principles. Some sink mighty low.
Jack has proven again the wisdom often taught me by my mother and my grandmother, “A good reputation is the hardest thing to build and the easiest thing to destroy.”
In political activity, when one abandons long-held principles and starts measuring success only by revenue, one should have the decency not to drag down one’s formerly trusting friends.
Those whose trust is betrayed are the victims. The victims deserve our sympathy and understanding, not condemnation.
In his statement after pleading guilty, Jack Abramoff said that his greatest regret was the damage he had done to those who trusted him. Right. But when he was raking in those millions of dollars, while privately showering his clients with contempt, he didn’t give much thought to the consequences.
Blinded by his own success, Jack succumbed to some very human and very common temptations — temptations which should be fought and resisted by any highly successful person.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online