What grates about the GSA scandal

More from that brilliant column by Peggy Noonan, America’s Crisis of Character:

There is the General Services Administration scandal. An agency devoted to efficiency is outed as an agency of mindless bread-and-circuses indulgence. They had a four-day regional conference in Las Vegas, with clowns and mind readers.

The reason the story is news, and actually upsetting, is not that a government agency wasted money. That is not news. The reason it’s news is that the people involved thought what they were doing was funny, and appropriate. In the past, bureaucratic misuse of taxpayer money was quiet. You needed investigators to find it, trace it, expose it. Now it’s a big public joke. They held an awards show. They sang songs about the perks of a government job: “Brand new computer and underground parking and a corner office. . . . Love to the taxpayer. . . . I’ll never be under OIG investigation.” At the show, the singer was made Commissioner for a Day. “The hotel would like to talk to you about paying for the party that was held in the commissioner’s suite last night” the emcee said. It got a big laugh.

On the “red carpet” leading into the event, GSA chief Jeffrey Neely said: “I am wearing an Armani.” One worker said, “I have a talent for drinking Margarita. . . . It all began with the introduction of performance measures.” That got a big laugh too.

All the workers looked affluent, satisfied. Only a generation ago, earnest, tidy government bureaucrats were spoofed as drudges and drones. Not anymore. Now they’re way cool. Immature, selfish and vain, but way cool.

Their leaders didn’t even pretend to have a sense of mission and responsibility. They reminded me of the story a year ago of the dizzy captain of a U.S. Navy ship who made off-color videos and played them for his crew. He wasn’t interested in the burdens of leadership—the need to be the adult, the uncool one, the one who maintains standards. No one at GSA seemed interested in playing the part of the grown-up, either.

Why? Why did they think this is OK? They seemed mildly decadent. Or proudly decadent. In contrast to you, low, toiling taxpayer that you are, poor drudges and drones.

via America’s Crisis of Character – WSJ.com.

HT:  Doug Reynolds

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Michael B.

    “Why? Why did they think this is OK? They seemed mildly decadent. Or proudly decadent. In contrast to you, low, toiling taxpayer that you are, poor drudges and drones.”

    There is some truth here, but their salaries compared to many CEOs is rather modest, and this is at the same time where many of their own workers don’t have health insurance. Again, their behavior is unacceptable, but one can easily find worse in the private sector.

  • Michael B.

    “Why? Why did they think this is OK? They seemed mildly decadent. Or proudly decadent. In contrast to you, low, toiling taxpayer that you are, poor drudges and drones.”

    There is some truth here, but their salaries compared to many CEOs is rather modest, and this is at the same time where many of their own workers don’t have health insurance. Again, their behavior is unacceptable, but one can easily find worse in the private sector.

  • Booklover

    The sad thing is, columns like Noonan’s don’t make it into many newspapers. Our money is filtered into organizations like these, yet we are often helpless to control what it does.

    We toiling taxpayers are, indeed, the drudges and drones, while others become the ridiculing elite. With our money.

  • Booklover

    The sad thing is, columns like Noonan’s don’t make it into many newspapers. Our money is filtered into organizations like these, yet we are often helpless to control what it does.

    We toiling taxpayers are, indeed, the drudges and drones, while others become the ridiculing elite. With our money.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Why? Why did they think this is OK?”

    Look at what they have to emulate with the gang of thugs in the White Hut.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Why? Why did they think this is OK?”

    Look at what they have to emulate with the gang of thugs in the White Hut.

  • Tom Hering

    “White Hut.” Did Carl just make an African heritage reference? Nah. Couldn’t be. Carl is a good Christian, and good Christians aren’t racists. Right, Carl?

  • Tom Hering

    “White Hut.” Did Carl just make an African heritage reference? Nah. Couldn’t be. Carl is a good Christian, and good Christians aren’t racists. Right, Carl?

  • SKPeterson

    My guess is that this is not something that has suddenly sprung up in the last 3 or 4 years; the blame cannot be entirely laid at the feet of Barack Obama and his entourage. Casual Friday, bureaucratic indifference, even insouciance, to the concerns of the taxpaying public, the proud display of vacuity, have been bubbling up from the Jerry Springer-ized, Oprah Winfrey-sphere for over a decade. What’s news is that people are waking up to the fact that they are held in rather low regard by the real consumers of their tax dollars – the bureaucrats. Why this has taken such a long time is the real mystery.

  • SKPeterson

    My guess is that this is not something that has suddenly sprung up in the last 3 or 4 years; the blame cannot be entirely laid at the feet of Barack Obama and his entourage. Casual Friday, bureaucratic indifference, even insouciance, to the concerns of the taxpaying public, the proud display of vacuity, have been bubbling up from the Jerry Springer-ized, Oprah Winfrey-sphere for over a decade. What’s news is that people are waking up to the fact that they are held in rather low regard by the real consumers of their tax dollars – the bureaucrats. Why this has taken such a long time is the real mystery.

  • formerly just steve

    Yes, Michael #1, let us all compare ourselves to the worst in those we deride. That will certainly make us a better country!

  • formerly just steve

    Yes, Michael #1, let us all compare ourselves to the worst in those we deride. That will certainly make us a better country!

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “Dearest Brutus, the fault is not in the GSA, but in ourselves.”

    This is what our fellow citizen have given us. It’s not so much that the government is bad, as it is that the electorate wants a bad government. Look at the big arch over the last 50 years. No matter much who’s in office the public sector grows and grows. It won’t stop untill it fills ever tiny speck of space in human affairs. There will be no room left for the practice of faith, except perhaps, between your two ears, and even that will take a daily struggle.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “Dearest Brutus, the fault is not in the GSA, but in ourselves.”

    This is what our fellow citizen have given us. It’s not so much that the government is bad, as it is that the electorate wants a bad government. Look at the big arch over the last 50 years. No matter much who’s in office the public sector grows and grows. It won’t stop untill it fills ever tiny speck of space in human affairs. There will be no room left for the practice of faith, except perhaps, between your two ears, and even that will take a daily struggle.

  • Grace

    “Look at what they have to emulate with the gang of thugs in the White Hut.”

    Carl @3 gets the prize for this one!

  • Grace

    “Look at what they have to emulate with the gang of thugs in the White Hut.”

    Carl @3 gets the prize for this one!

  • Carl Vehse

    SK Peterson: “My guess is that this is not something that has suddenly sprung up in the last 3 or 4 years”

    There is definitely a history, going further back than the ex-boyfriend of Monica (and Gennifer and Elizabeth and Markie and ….).

    From In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (p. 11-12):

    Besides one-night stands, Kennedy had several consorts within the White House. One was Pamela Turnure, who had been his secretary when he was a senator, then Jackie’s press secretary in the White House. Two others, Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowen, were secretaries who were known as Fiddle and Faddle, respectively. Wear already had the nickname Fiddle when she joined the White House staff, so Kennedy aides applied the name Faddle to Cowen.

    “Neither did much work,” says former agent Larry Newman, who was on the Kennedy detail. They would have threesomes with Kennedy…

    “Fiddle and Faddle were well-endowed and would swim with JFK in the pool. They wore only white T-shirts that came to their waists. You could see their nipples. We had radio contact with Jackie’s detail in case she came back.

    One afternoon, Kennedy was cavorting in the White House pool with young women when Secret Service agents on Jackie’s detail radioed that she was returning unexpectedly to the White House.

    “Jackie was expected back in 10 minutes, and JFK came charging out of the pool,” says agent Anthony Sherman, who was on his detail at the time. “He had a bathing suit on and a Bloody Mary in his hand.”

    Kennedy looked around and gave the drink to Sherman. “Enjoy it, it’s quite good,” the president said.

    According to Secret Service agents, Kennedy had sex with Marilyn Monroe at New York hotels and in a loft above the Justice Department office of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother.

    One can even go back to FDR… or earlier.

  • Carl Vehse

    SK Peterson: “My guess is that this is not something that has suddenly sprung up in the last 3 or 4 years”

    There is definitely a history, going further back than the ex-boyfriend of Monica (and Gennifer and Elizabeth and Markie and ….).

    From In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect (p. 11-12):

    Besides one-night stands, Kennedy had several consorts within the White House. One was Pamela Turnure, who had been his secretary when he was a senator, then Jackie’s press secretary in the White House. Two others, Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowen, were secretaries who were known as Fiddle and Faddle, respectively. Wear already had the nickname Fiddle when she joined the White House staff, so Kennedy aides applied the name Faddle to Cowen.

    “Neither did much work,” says former agent Larry Newman, who was on the Kennedy detail. They would have threesomes with Kennedy…

    “Fiddle and Faddle were well-endowed and would swim with JFK in the pool. They wore only white T-shirts that came to their waists. You could see their nipples. We had radio contact with Jackie’s detail in case she came back.

    One afternoon, Kennedy was cavorting in the White House pool with young women when Secret Service agents on Jackie’s detail radioed that she was returning unexpectedly to the White House.

    “Jackie was expected back in 10 minutes, and JFK came charging out of the pool,” says agent Anthony Sherman, who was on his detail at the time. “He had a bathing suit on and a Bloody Mary in his hand.”

    Kennedy looked around and gave the drink to Sherman. “Enjoy it, it’s quite good,” the president said.

    According to Secret Service agents, Kennedy had sex with Marilyn Monroe at New York hotels and in a loft above the Justice Department office of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother.

    One can even go back to FDR… or earlier.

  • Carl Vehse

    From p. 74:

    “The Carters were the biggest liars in the world, ” Gulley says. “The word was passed to get rid of all the booze. There can’t be any on Air Force One, in Camp David, or in the White House.”

    According to Gulley, “The first Sunday they are in the white House, I get a call from the mess saying, ‘The want Bloody Marys before going to church. What should I do?’ I said, ‘Find some booze and take it up to them.’”

    “We never cut out liquor under Carter,” Palmer says. “Occasionally Carter had a martini,” Palmer adds. He also had a Michelob Light. Rosalynn–code named Dancer–would have a screwdriver.”

    In the 19th century, similarly exposing the foibles, hypocrisies, and corruption of European aristocracy got one German writer into trouble over some three dozen historical books he wrote about them. Some countries banned the books, which were popular, or the writer. At one point he was thrown into jail for six months. And all that after coming back from a one-year religious adventure in Perry County, Missouri (he wrote a book about that, too).

  • Carl Vehse

    From p. 74:

    “The Carters were the biggest liars in the world, ” Gulley says. “The word was passed to get rid of all the booze. There can’t be any on Air Force One, in Camp David, or in the White House.”

    According to Gulley, “The first Sunday they are in the white House, I get a call from the mess saying, ‘The want Bloody Marys before going to church. What should I do?’ I said, ‘Find some booze and take it up to them.’”

    “We never cut out liquor under Carter,” Palmer says. “Occasionally Carter had a martini,” Palmer adds. He also had a Michelob Light. Rosalynn–code named Dancer–would have a screwdriver.”

    In the 19th century, similarly exposing the foibles, hypocrisies, and corruption of European aristocracy got one German writer into trouble over some three dozen historical books he wrote about them. Some countries banned the books, which were popular, or the writer. At one point he was thrown into jail for six months. And all that after coming back from a one-year religious adventure in Perry County, Missouri (he wrote a book about that, too).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X