Some fellow pundits claim the scandals involving online comments and possible prosecutorial misconduct only tarnish the terminal months of Jim Letten’s legacy as U.S. Attorney in New Orleans. They’re a stain at the end of his distinguished tenure, according to WWL’s Clancy Dubos. A bad final chapter in an otherwise great book of accomplishments, according to WGSO radio host Kaare Johnson.
It’s as if Letten were at bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, and struck out on a wicked slider thrown by businessman (and former federal target) Fred Heebe. Then he retired. You can’t boo a Hall of Famer for one untimely lapse, can you?
Government and politics is no place for hero worship. No one rises to these leadership roles through the awesome force of shimmering virtue. Instead, such men and women make their careers through grasping compromise of principle; by going along to get along; by consciously conforming themselves, their opinions, and priorities, to those of the governing class; by whispering together in their dry cellars and such.
High ranking public officials are not "dragonslayers." They are club men. Their most common distinguishing characteristic is cowardice. This isn't always a bad thing, of course. Because we are fortunate enough to live under a mildly responsive, somewhat functional, kind of democratic form of government, we can occasionally frighten the cowardly club men into doing the right thing. But what that requires from us is constant attention, and much screaming and yelling at no small expense to our leisure, our security, and to our pocketbooks.
Even so the failure rate remains high. The club, after all, is the club and its members enjoy many privileges most of us do not. In any case, there is no time in this to stop and pretend any of our presumed leaders, even when occasionally made to behave, is our friend. It would be helpful, then, if the gatekeepers of our journalism would refrain from doing so too. But maybe that's too much to ask since so many of them clearly want to be in the club themselves.