About this blog:

What if they held a class war and nobody noticed? For decades, liberals and progressives have been bashed for conducting a "class war" every time they suggest that it would be appropriate for the extremely wealthy to shoulder a bit more of the burden of paying for government. Meanwhile, a swarm of far-right think-tanks and political action committees have been working tirelessly to promote the idea that taxes on the wealthy should be lowered further from their historic lows, and that entitlement programs such as social security and medicare are too expensive to sustain (and in any case, immoral). The latest attempts to delegitimize public employee unions are the logical next step in what genuinely appears to be the systematic dismantlement of the middle class. This blog will highlight some of the more extreme examples of this activity that may not always show up in your news feeds.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

David Simon on Competence vs Moral Rectitude

Via Mistermix, here is a post by David Simon (creator of Homicide:  Life on the Street, The Wire and Treme) on the Petraeus scandal.  He begins with a comment from an earlier post, invoking the Churchill quote, "The price of greatness is responsibility," and pointing out that neither Petraeus nor Bill Clinton can be considered "great" due to their lapses of infidelity.

Dave Simon counters first with a digression about Churchill's excessive drinking, noting that by some standards this could be taken as a sign of moral failure, and hence reason to remove him during a time when he was providing singular leadership to a beleaguered Britain.  Then he provides a lengthy anecdote about the late John O'Neill, an FBI agent who was well on his way to uncovering the 9/11 plot when he was forced into retirement due to his womanizing.  Ironically, he died in those attacks, as he was at the time director of security for the World Trade Center, and was in the south tower trying to rescue people when it came down.

He concludes with:

"I don't need rectitude from my leaders.  I need competence.  I need results.  If you have someone better than Petraeus, then that's one thing.  If he's the best at counterinsurgency, then he is not expendable at this time, when insurgency and our response to it mean actual American lives in the balance."

I agree with this concept, though I am not sure Petraeus really is the best person for this job.  I can't help but feel that much of his success over the last 10 years has arisen from a preternatural talent on his part for building a cult of personality among politicians and media types.  However, I do find it quite ridiculous that his extramarital relationship should drive his resignation.

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