Letting a crisis go to waste

Elizabeth Letchworth Former U.S. Senate Secretary
Font Size:

“Character is what you do when nobody’s watching.”

This quote belongs to Tennessee writer H. Jackson Brown Jr. and has been cited much over the last couple of decades. Maybe it should be the quote of the week for the Obama administration. You see, character is what makes you tick, react, respond and reflect. Having a good character means you do each of these in a caring and responsible way without adulation or reward. You act, react and reflect in the true and moral way because it is the right thing to do.

In a town hall meeting last Friday, Sen. Kyl (R-Ariz.) gave his audience a peek into the character of the our president when he mentioned his recent private meeting with the president on the subject of the Arizona Immigration issues. Sen. Kyl said that during his Oval Office meeting with the POTUS, the president said that if he were to secure the boarders, then Congress would have no reason to support broader immigration reform. This 90-second video shows Sen. Kyl re-capping his meeting with the president as he remembered it. The vocal gasps don’t really need any narration or explanation. The content of this meeting recently came into some controversy as the media began to air the video taken in Sen. Kyl’s town hall meeting.

Flash back to the president’s only Oval Office speech last Tuesday. This is where we heard him say when addressing the nation about the” worst environmental disaster America has ever faced “the following: “The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.” The president’s coupling of the BP oil disaster with a plea for Congress to pass his Cap ‘n Trade/Energy bill seems distasteful at best and certainly not the “right thing to do.” It’s almost like you can hear those collective gasps again from the video.

Finally, we can’t seem to forget the president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s frequently quoted statement, “don’t let a crisis go to waste.” To this writer, this is an indication that Mr. Emanuel will do the right thing in time of crisis, but he wants something for doing it.

You be the judge if the president simply misspoke both in the private meeting with the Senator and during his first and only Oval Office address to the nation. You be the judge as to whether you think the president’s chief of staff hasn’t admitted many times in the past that he believes you should use a crisis to get other things. It is unfortunate that we are looking at these different circumstances and having to try to put them in some prospective that is palatable. The president has frequently said that one of his favorite past president’s is Abraham Lincoln. Maybe the president should post a second quote in the Oval Office as his quote of the week. This one goes like this: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, four-times-elected United States Senate Secretary for the Majority and Minority. She is the founder of GradeGov.com.