NO INTEGRITY? NO “PROBLEMO”!
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 30 January 2009
Our new president was hailed in extraordinary fashion only ten days ago and, despite his promises, it’s already business as usual in Washington, D.C. The platform, “Change We Can Believe In,” is quickly proving—no surprise here—to be nothing more than tired campaign rhetoric (aka: hogwash). No different than that spewed by his more experienced associates who have mastered babbling out of both sides of the mouth—at the same time—all to appease and hoodwink the public. Once again, it worked! The old joke, ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? The lips are moving,’ couldn’t be more apropos. Barely a full week in office and while our new president was publicly remarking about a new era of ethics and transparency throughout government, to include the top levels—president not excluded, his nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, was on the “hot seat” (wink, nod, secret handshake, and low five) explaining to a sympathetic, post-election still giddy Senate why he did not fully meet his personal income tax obligations—for four years during this decade. The only thing missing on camera was one of the elders cozying up to Geithner and with a hearty shoulder hug offering “Listen up, my boy, to succeed in this business you can’t get caught.” Captured on camera or not, it probably happened. Only after nomination did he pay his taxes—with interest and penalties—no doubt a distasteful, involuntary act of contrition. His newfound ‘conscious and honor’ did not escape cynical notice by a handful of ‘non-plussed’ Senators who still have an iota of integrity, conscious of their own, and dogged commitment to respectable public service.
The Democratic Party and mainstream media have spent so much time publicly French-kissing our country’s new leader (public displays of affection are en vogue)—they’ve yet to come up for air—it’s no wonder there was barely a mumble much less any outrage about Geithner’s nomination. It’s impossible to speak, much less intelligibly, when the tongue is otherwise engaged. No surprise, for the completely inappropriate love affair—and huge disservice to our citizenry—continues and it’s going to take some monumental breach of “infidelity” by the president to restore sensibility. Just how long it will take before the split and jilted lovers admit they’ve been two-timed and had is anyone’s guess. We’ll see. Geithner’s pathetic, sworn explanation that his were ‘careless mistakes albeit honest ones as he was confused by the complexities of the tax code’ was every bit as stupid and implausible—no, check that, more so—than the irresponsible schoolchild claiming ‘the dog ate my homework.’ You have got to be kidding, Mr. Geithner? Did it never occur to you—highly educated, intelligent, and experienced—to contact the IRS (free advice), your CPA, or a tax attorney for clarification? Per your defense—which reeks of incompetence not to mention dishonesty, how in the world could you possibly be qualified for service as Secretary of the Treasury?
More troubling still is the 23 Senators (13 Asses and 10 Dumbos) on the Senate Finance Committee who last week voted 18-5 to approve Geithner’s confirmation. And, the full Senate confirmed him this past Monday with a 60-34 vote. The Senate’s justification for confirming Geithner—‘he has the talent and skills we need’—is even lamer than Geithner’s ridiculous alibi. Is there no one else truly better qualified as to character and skill to head the Treasury? Geithner’s confirmation tells us all we need to know about the caliber of individuals strutting around with the title “Senator” before their name. Not all, for there are some good ones, but many are folks most choose to deliberately avoid precluding the need for a decontamination shower complete with head to toe wire brush scrubbing. The Senate is one of our—We, the People—most important filters and spokesmen. They failed us—miserably.
Most disappointing was the perspective offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R, UT), who usually proffers good judgment and is intolerant of shenanigans, when he said, “People make mistakes and commit oversights …even the most intelligent and gifted, two adjectives that certainly apply to Mr. Geithner, make errors in their financial dealings.” Come again, Senator Hatch? In the words of John McEnroe on a tennis court or rental car lot, “You cannot be serious?” Once, maybe twice, is a mistake and oversight. Three and fours time is deceit and fraud. Please explain to America why the Senate’s confirmation ‘acid test’ was not consideration of what happens to the average tax payer for “mistakes” far less egregious than Geithner’s? Furthermore, assuming the wild hypothesis that Geithner made honest, careless mistakes is true, should he be entrusted with the far more difficult task of rebuilding our economy? Hardly. Either way, he should have lost confirmation. Let’s hear it for Senator Tom Harkin (D, IA), one among a few of the Party in power, who put politics aside, was not about to buy the snake oil, and not supporting the nominee asked, "How can Mr. Geithner speak with any credibility or authority?" It really is that simple—isn’t it Senator. He cannot. Bravo, Senator Harkin. How refreshing. Though ‘no’ voters lost the cause they at least maintained their self-respect, the respect of their constituency, and likely found some new fans. With and through them there is hope.
Any half wit knows Geithner knew exactly what he was doing when preparing and filing his income taxes for 2001 and the three subsequent years for which he was called to the carpet. His testimony claiming personal careless mistakes, confusion, and a passing jab at Turbo Tax software were nonsense and unbecoming to say the least. That he was not embarrassed by his laughable defense is, itself, embarrassing—and shameless. Further, it’s fair for a reasonable person to believe Geithner saw himself as above the law and, by position, entitled to privileges that would exclude him from the scrutiny of an audit and payment—that ended up being nearly $43,000. That’s a lot of money. He’d most probably have gotten away with it had he not been nominated for Secretary of the Treasury—a happenstance he could not possibly have foreseen eight years ago—even through the clearest of crystal balls. As life is full of twists and turns and you just never know, honesty is always the best policy. Honesty and integrity are not circumstantial qualities—at least they are not supposed to be—either you possess these traits or you do not. Geithner may have talents that can benefit the country but he lacks the character to lead. So why, Senators, did you not force the search for a fully qualified Treasury Secretary—and relegate Geithner to consultant status as a subject matter expert?
As for President Obama, he asked that politics be set aside and defended his nominee as the man who can steer America out of its financial quagmire. Isn’t it the president’s job to steer and others to navigate? But pilot or navigator, Geithner is not about politics. It’s about right from wrong, accountability, and implicit mutual trust. Just how can any American believe that a man of his intelligence, expertise, and resources, who claimed “confusion” about our tax code, first, believe him and second, expect him to successfully tackle the complexities of our current fiscal mess, effectively manage hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, and navigate us toward economic recovery and prosperity? Mr. President, are we to believe there is no one other than Geithner in the entire country with the requisite credentials, who is also an honest and upstanding citizen held in high regard, ready, willing, and able to take on the job of Treasury Secretary? Who fed you Geithner and why did you not have the moral courage to realize his nomination and confirmation is completely contrary to all you say you stand for? Never mind—it’s a rhetorical question. He is in keeping with the cast of seedy characters of your past you worked hard to distance yourself from during the campaign. Not a good start for you, at all, for a foundation from which to fix the economy. Should Geithner die tomorrow, who then Mr. President? Come now.
President Obama, by all public appearances, seemingly tapped some decent, capable people for key positions in his Administration. But Geithner was simply the wrong man for the Treasury job. There must be much more to the story we will never know. With the kind of logic behind the Geithner nomination and confirmation, why was domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, not nominated for Secretary of Homeland Defense? No question he’s experienced. Could it be only because he remains smug, defiant, and unrepentant? Damn right it’s absurd and preposterous but not unlike placing a tax evader in charge of the Internal Revenue Service. Yes sir, early indications are it’s going to be business as usual inside the Beltway. Did you really expect otherwise?