The Great Pretenders

Pretending to be something that you are truly not is inordinately difficult. It is an enterprise that requires great effort and energy and, more often than not, ends in disgrace. Take Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), for example. For who-knows-how-long, he has been pretending to be a straight guy who does not enjoy an occasional rendezvous with anonymous men in the stalls of public restrooms. Unfortunately for Mr. Craig, his true inclinations have been exposed after word got out yesterday that he “pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men’s restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.” Oops, don’t you just hate when that happens?

Not surprisingly, like many a two-faced fellow nabbed by deceit of his pants, the Senator is denying and minimizing the whole affair. “I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct,” he asserted yesterday, guilty plea and previous allegations notwithstanding. It is doubtful that anyone finds his protests credible. He is still pretending, sharing the lie that he tells to himself to anyone who will listen. How sad.

Mr. Craig is not alone, of course. Our nation’s capital is replete with pretenders. On the same day that the Senator was outed, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—who has been doggedly pretending to “stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law” instead of the partisan policies of a power-hungry administration—finally succumbed to his many critics and tendered his resignation. Repeatedly exposed as an incompetent toady who has politicized and polarized the Justice Department, Mr. Gonzales has opted not to live the lie anymore. Good for him. And good for America.

But the greatest pretenders of all, Bush and Cheney, remain atop their lofty, if shaky, perches. They are leaders in name alone. True leadership requires considerably more integrity and ability than these hacks have ever demonstrated. They pretend to have our collective back, but—as evidenced by the failures of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, along with the assault on our most cherished liberties and the cancerous growth of economic inequality in this country—they stab us in the back instead. Et tu, brutes?

I don’t know about you, but I am weary of all the deceit. I long for a modicum of honesty and decency from those who serve at the pleasure of the public. I yearn for leaders whose good intentions exceed their foul pretensions. Is that too much to ask?

One thought on “The Great Pretenders

  1. Mr. Craig’s downfall is at once sad (one must wonder at the agony of his family) but also shows that hypocrisy and lies do sometimes catch up. I do believe that as displeasing Mr. Craig’s behavior and now denial of what he admitted as true may be, there are far worse hypocrisies acted out every day by our Nation’s representatives. Mr. Craig may have lived a life of tapping his foot at bathroom stalls seeking attention, but far worse has been his and other senators and congressmen refusal to halt a stupid conflict in a very nasty part of the world in which we had no vital interest. More significant than Mr. Craig’s bathroom behavior is the inability of this President to put together a coherent agenda to confront issues of inadequate medical protection for our citizens, a failing educational system and our own national borders that we cannot seem to defend. One must conclude that the likely congressional censure of Mr. Craig is a poor substitute for a needed censure of a totally ineffective Congress and failed legislative process.

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