Saturday, April 02, 2005


Americans have a strange attitude toward prominent people who fail in some terrible way in their personal lives. What we often do is give them some great authority in public life in exactly the same field in which they failed in private.

Here’s an example:

Some years ago one of Art Linkletter’s offspring died in a drug related incident. That is a terrible thing and I don’t make light of it.

Shortly after he was appointed to President Nixon's national advisory council for drug abuse prevention, education and information.

Excuse me. What exactly were his credentials?

Let’s see. He had failed miserably in detecting and policing drug use in his own family.

Oh yeah. Right. So let’s have him advise the whole country. That makes sense.

(A small digression: After O. J. Simpson got off from his murder trial, he wanted to lecture at meetings of battered women. Surprisingly, he was turned down. That has little to do with this subject, but I thought it amusing.)

Back to the subject.

I think how someone performs in his immediate family should be of primary importance in how you would evaluate him for another job.

I would never go to or recommend a psychiatrist if he had a suicide in his immediate family.

And so on.

Which brings me to Kofi Annan.

Now an ongoing investigation has come up with a preliminary conclusion that there is no evidence that he is corrupt. His son is another matter. His son, according to the report, had used his father’s position to enrich himself at the expense of starving children in Iraq.

So here is the problem: Do we want a man who can’t control corruption in his own immediate family in charge of a world organization?

You can guess my answer.


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