Is corruption inevitable?
By Erik Rush
I've shared on several occasions that my sole ambition throughout early youth (along with half my peers) was to be The Next Big Pop Star. In the course of this pursuit, and due to the fact that I had family in the business and grew up in an area frequented by celebrities of all stripes, I was exposed to a lot of successful individuals.
As the years went by I became more and more jaded – as well as involved in some of the self-destructive practices endemic to the industry. I also noticed that I was almost exclusively dealing with people of terribly low character. Not that I could escape blame, but from the stoner and junkie hangers-on, to the seedy club owners to the managers, execs and straight-up rockstars, everyone seemed to possess markedly pathological behavior. Someone could say "good morning" and I'd want to check to
Of course there have always been contrary examples of those in the entertainment industry (which I regularly excoriate without mercy, in case you've been living on a mountaintop) whose egos don't balloon beyond all reason despite the sycophants, the adulation, the money and opportunity for indulgence. Nevertheless, I began to postulate that perhaps this corruption might be all but inescapable for the vast majority who succeed in certain professions.
Certainly there are those who become lawyers so that they can legally steal, those who go into sales because they are great liars, and those who go into politics in order to "ram it to the rest of us," as Sean Young's character said in the film No Way Out.
Lately I've been wondering just how many individuals in the political arena are corrupted rather than innately corrupt – and there are a few noteworthy and newsworthy reasons for this. There's an axiom people use to cynically and firmly maintain that no one can attain high office without being amoral, unethical and self-serving, but I don't think that's true.
There's Tom Tancredo, for example, the Colorado Congressman who's been putting it all on the line to alert America as to just how bad the problems on our southern border are and how bleak America's future shall be if decisive (and, in some sectors, very unpopular) action is not taken. There are politicians who've been as outspoken on other important issues, to be fair; the border/immigration issue just happens to be a main cultural and media focus right now. Joe Lieberman is an example of
President Bush has put forth some fairly gutsy rhetoric lately relating to Israel's recent conflict and the War on Terror, but of course given constitutional constraints he can only act unilaterally up to a point. Since presidential rhetoric tends to be characteristically inscrutable, who but insiders or clairvoyants can ever say for sure?
What's been giving me pause lately is the change in tone of some who hold high office and certain cabinet members – namely Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who had been one of the more vocally forthright and realistic given geopolitical issues of security. In the aftermath of Hezbollah's attack on Israel and the kidnapping her soldiers, Rice's tone has grown significantly more reserved.
Perhaps it's for reasons of diplomacy (of which we're not aware and are usually phony, imprudent and unnecessary anyway), but we've heard more from her lately smacking of the U.N. line. Now, at the time when it's never been more obvious that those who deny the global peril posed by Islamic fascists – or who claim it's somehow our fault – ought to be called out for the deluded fools they are by anyone with a voice, a mind and any semblance of honesty.
I a recent article on the situation in Israel, I wrote:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his colleagues know what is at stake and are proceeding as best they can. Despite this, the same tired, feeble overtures continue to be bandied about by the US, the UN and European nations: "Let's stop fighting for a bit and talk." …Why?
Regardless of the cries that our Iraq campaign is a futile one, the public knows that we once turned Japan and Germany into rubble – accepting the "horribly immoral" fact of collateral damage, and that democracies now exist in these countries. In the main, the public knows that Islamic fascists are men who serve evil; they're just hoping our government will do the right thing, whatever that is.
It is only decades of "Progressive" relativism and its prominence that give people – even those such as Bush and Rice – the willies. Were we to take off the gloves and turn Teheran and Damascus into rubble (or more wisely, take off the muzzle and let Israel have the pleasure), it is only the far Left, the confused and the weak who would complain. In the end, Bush would not be driven out of office, the Republican Party would not be outlawed, and the lion's share of our geopolitical woes would be
So why all the soft soap all of a sudden from the State Department and eagerness to cooperate with the U.N., whose intervention always proves to be a sad, disastrous joke? Kofi Annan wants to send the French in to police Lebanon. The mind boggles…
Unless the Bush administration and Israel are attempting to prove to the world once and for all that peace with fanatics is impossible through the inevitable failure of the U.N. peacekeeping effort, I worry despite the stark truths and looming danger that face us, Bush and Rice are backing off (and forcing Israel to do likewise) at the worst possible moment.
Is this corruption, this cult of Carteresque diplomacy, unavoidable? Like the unseen demarcation of population density through which cities pass from places of splendor and character into places of squalor, corruption and destitution, have the delusions of power infected those at the top of the American political heap? Will they elect to play the game like everyone else – save Ronald Reagan – has for the last 40 years?
If so, we're in for a hell of an unpleasant ride.
Erik Rush is a New York-born Black columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at http://www.erikrush.com. His new book, "It's the Devil, Stupid!" is available through most major outlets.