Responsibility: It's a word that evokes thoughts of noble motives and
noble deeds. Harry Truman, a plainspoken haberdasher, who became
president of the United States, put it simply: The buck stops here.
Yet responsibility is an individual, not a group, activity. Like
pregnancy, one is either responsible or not responsible, and no amount
of passing blame reduces the fact of either pregnancy or responsibility.
It has become very fashionable for politicians to preach
responsibility for others; but when they are caught being irresponsible,
the buck gets passed to someone else, never stopping. Responsibility is
not just acknowledging, after the deed has been discovered, that an
error, either in judgment or action, has occurred; it is accepting the
consequences of that deed.
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Somehow all the discussions about the Clinton impeachment centered on
how and when he would "apologize" to the American people, as if the
acknowledgment, with its mea culpa, would somehow eradicate his
true responsibility for lying and cheating. An apology is for most
people the acknowledgment of responsibility for the deed and the
recognition that it was wrong. The Clinton-Gore administration
obviously is under the mistaken notion that apologies suffice for
consequence and punishment. Thus the true responsibility for the
misdeed is ignored and an attempt is made to substitute the required
apology for the consequences.
The most egregious example of irresponsible and illegal activity
occurred during the 1996 presidential campaign. Flouting campaign
finance laws, the Clinton-Gore Re-election Committee sought illegal
campaign dollars from foreigners and encouraged illegal fundraising
activity. When their deeds were discovered the Democrats obfuscated,
procrastinated, and then -- incredibly -- sought new campaign finance
laws under the banner of "campaign finance reform." Thus it has taken
almost four years after the alleged violations occurred, and a year
after an indictment, for Maria Hsia's trial on charges of violating
current campaign financing laws to begin.
Ms. Hsia has been a campaign operative and fundraiser for Vice
President Al Gore since the 1980s. Her indictment stemmed from the
event surrounding the now-infamous Buddhist temple fundraiser in April
1996. The charges against Hsia are that she covered up illegal campaign
contributions to both the Clinton-Gore Re-election Committee and the
Democratic National Committee in 1996. The contributions in question
were in the form of personal checks written by employees (religious
personnel) at the Buddhist temple. The employees were then reimbursed by
the temple. This type of corporate contribution is already illegal
under current law, even though the vice-president proclaimed there was
no "controlling legal authority" when confronted by the press on his
attendance at the event.
Clearly, Gore tried everything to shift the responsibility for his
attending the fundraiser from himself to others. His first claim was
that his presence was to foster community outreach. When pressed, he
acknowledged that campaign contributors were present, but still
maintained that he was unaware of campaign solicitations. Now Gore's
supporter and colleague of 20 years is being held accountable for the
illegal activity that transpired after he visited the Buddhist temple.
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The timing of this trial does not help Gore defend against the
charges of illegal campaign contributions made by his challenger for the
Democrat nomination, Bill Bradley. According to Jerry Seper Bradley "has
intensified his challenge of Mr. Gore's credibility concerning
questionable fund-raising practices by the vice president during the
1996 presidential campaign." One fervently hopes that Bradley will
force the press to focus on the issue of Gore's involvement in the 1996
Democratic illegal and improper fund raising activities; but Bradley and
most of the other presidential candidates also have relationships with
their contributors for which they must be accountable.
Charles Lewis, president of the Center for Public Integrity, a group
that unfortunately supports public financing of political campaigns, has
written a book, "The Buying of the President 2000." It is a follow-up
of a similar book published in 1996. Although I disagree with the
Center's objectives, the book illustrates the hypocrisy and lack of
responsibility rampant among today's politicians. The Center's
researchers discovered how Bradley, during his three terms in the United
States Senate, received large campaign contributions from Wall Street --
especially from officers and executives in the corporate-takeover
business. His quid-pro-quo was to oppose any changes in the tax code
that would make hostile takeovers more difficult. Both Bradley and
McCain, in the case of the Keating Savings & Loan scandal, attended
events that were supported by savings and loan operators. They, like
most of their brethren in the Senate, have traveled both nationally and
internationally at the behest of corporate interests, especially their
After leaving the U.S. Senate, both Al Gore's father, Sen. Al Gore
Sr., and Bill Bradley, were taken care of by their corporate patrons.
When Gore Sr. left the U.S. Senate in 1970, he was given a job with
Occidental Petroleum at $500,000 annually. Additionally, Occidental
chairman Armand Hammer, a known Communist fellow traveler, made a deal
with Gore Sr. that benefits the vice-president in the amount of $20,000
per year, which totals over $300,000 in aggregate.
That debt to Hammer was repaid in 1997 when, thanks to the
Clinton-Gore administration, Occidental received the right to buy 47,000
acres of the Elk Hills oil reserve. That purchase alone tripled
Occidental's oil reserve.
Coincidentally, former California Congressman Tony Coehlo, now
chairman of Gore's presidential campaign, was on the board of directors
of ICF Kaiser, the company hired by the administration to assess the
environmental cost of the sale. Yet, Gore professes to support the
environment and oppose "big oil."
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J.P. Morgan, one of many Wall Street companies that had not only
contributed to Bradley's campaigns, but had worked closely with him on
issues before the Senate Finance Committee, rewarded him when he left
the Senate. He was given a consulting job worth $300,000 in fees. Now
Bradley seeks union support as a champion of the working man in
opposition to greedy capitalist bosses.
All this dissembling, prevaricating and just plain obfuscating on the
part of our leaders demonstrates the complete breakdown of moral
responsibility. There is no moral leadership, only pragmatic politics.
The principles found in the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights are
being replaced by relativism. We are not held accountable for lies
because the definition of "is" and most other words has become
ambiguous. Michael Amos of Little Rock, Arkansas, whose car was stolen,
tells the police a lie -- his daughter was asleep in the back seat -- to
encourage them to find the car quickly. Maybe Mr. Amos was emulating
the great prevaricator from Little Rock, but a perusal of newspapers
would also show many stories illustrating that the means justifies the
end. Amos' lie worked; the car was recovered in less than two hours.
After eight years of an administration that lies and escapes its
moral responsibilities, the American people expect politicians and
everyone else around them to lie, cheat, and steal. It's trickle down
immorality. It's time for the American voter to become responsible and
vote for candidates that believe in the Ten Commandments, the
Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. After all, each one of us is
still responsible for one vote.