When I hear the title of ex-White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book and think about the hypocritical behavior of people like McClellan and Arizona Gov. Bill Richardson, I want to ask, "What happened?"
What happened to loyalty?
What happened to any sense of traditional, ethical judgment?
What happened to the concept of serving others instead of serving yourself?
FDR once quipped: "If you want to work for me you have to have a passion for anonymity." He knew what he was talking about. Those "in service" to public figures and others VIPs must begin by understanding that they aren't the ones calling the shots; they aren't the subject of the story; they aren't the stars.
They must be content to be servants to the stars. If not for the Clintons, Bill Richardson would probably not be where he is today. If not for George W. Bush, Scott McClellan certainly would not be where he is today.
Not only did Richardson bail out on the Clintons and embrace Barack Obama, but he also was so desperate to climb on the Obama bandwagon and be seen as a kingmaker that he made sure to declare his support for Obama at an elaborately staged Hollywood-style lovefest in front of thousands of Obamaniacs and the national media.
When Clinton loyalist James Carville called him a Judas, Richardson barely noticed. Instead he tossed off a few asides about how much he still admired the Clintons while running as far away from them as he could get.
Likewise, when Bob Dole called McClellan a "miserable creature," McClellan barely registered a reaction. "I have a lot of respect for Sen. Dole," McClellan said. Hey, this is the same guy who had "a lot of respect" for President Bush?
Bob Dole was right. "There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues," Dole wrote McClellan.
"No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."
"No doubt you will 'clean up' as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm," Dole added.
Well, yes. McClellan and Richardson do seem to be "cleaning up" for now - but at what price?
What sort of credibility do you have after you've betrayed not merely those you've served but also betrayed your own words, actions and professed beliefs?
When he worked for Bush, McClellan gleefully castigated those who betrayed the president.
And as a member of Bill's Cabinet, Richardson defended the Clintons against their professed enemies.
PROFESSIONAL ethics (and common sense) teach us that you remain loyal to your employer and honor confidentiality unless and until you are asked to cross the line ethically.
If you feel the line has been crossed, you confront the matter with your employer then and there. If you don't get a satisfactory answer, then you must decide in good conscience whether you can and will continue to serve said employer.
If you find that you can't continue, you should leave promptly. And if you feel laws were violated, report that to the authorities.
But you don't hang around and secretly take notes and build a record against the employer and then profit by writing a book.
And you don't continue to profess loyalty and then one day wake up and embrace your benefactor's opponents.
Because when you do that,
you're part of the problem.
You contribute to a culture of deceit, dishonesty and self-aggrandizement.
That's what McClellan and Richardson have done.
That's why they can no longer be trusted.
And that's why we all ought to turn our backs on them. *
Daniel A. Cirucci is a lecturer in corporate communications at Penn State Abington. He blogs at dcirucci.blogspot.com.