“There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress,” Twain is oft-quoted.
“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer,” Rogers added.
Their cynicism is even more warranted today than it was in their time. Congress is running this country into the ground financially and politically – members can’t even agree to pay the oversized bills they run up.
A poll earlier this year showed Americans have less regard for Congress than they do for lice, colonoscopies, root canals and traffic jams.
Gallup last month said a scant 18 percent of Americans approve of the way the country is being governed – the worst rating since Gallup began asking the question in 1971, and worse than during any scandal in all those intervening years.
Examples of horrid leadership abound across the continent, though. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year sentence for bribery, fraud and extortion. Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner recently resigned after less than a year in office, after multiple allegations of sexual harassment; he was criminally convicted and sentenced to three months’ house arrest, and, in return for getting rid of him, the city has agreed to incur the costs of defending him in civil court.
Up north in Canada, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, after denying video evidence and ducking questions for months, admitted this past week that he smoked crack cocaine a year ago – but only while in a “drunken stupor.” Whew! That’s a relief!
Like Filner, and like the raunchy and scandalized former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, and like so many other awful excuses for public leaders, Ford planned to cling to power like a koala clings to Eucalyptus trees. They pretty much all do. They’ve got scrapings of power and privilege under their nails.
But truth be told, North America is an oasis of great leadership when compared to most of the world. We’ve got some 7 billion people on the planet, and the vast majority of them live under tyranny, corruption and despotism – while the rest of us get more of it than we’d like. In some cases, such as in Syria, authoritarianism is just the family business.
In North Korea, the people starve while North Korean “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un parties with basketball star Dennis Rodman and plays shade-tree mechanic with nuclear weapons. In Iran, the people are made to suffer under righteous and necessary international sanctions while their leaders joyously pursue the apocalypse.
It all makes you wonder: When is the human race going to get together and demand better?
It occurs to us that many state and local officials in this country receive some training when they take office – new judges, for instance. There are confabs for city and county commissions and the like. Where is the training for world leaders? Or are we to conclude no particular instructions are necessary to run a country?
In the foreword to his book Are We Good Enough for Liberty?, Foundation for Economic Education President Lawrence W. Reed writes, “character makes all the difference in the world.”