Senatorial candor : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Last Saturday (6 Feb.) during breaks in the impeachment hearings , NPR's Nina Totenberg and Dan Schorr spoke with various members of Congress, commenting on the current proceedings. I happened to catch this exchange with a U. S. Senator (don't remember his name, but it hardly matters). Paraphrasing, as I didn't tape this--

Schorr --"Senator, much of the public would like the Senate to open the final debate on the articles of impeachment, so everyone can hear what's said. What is your opinion?"

Senator -- "Definitely not. When we're in private, Senators speak frankly. Publicly, they just make speeches."

They went on to other topics, without following up on that wonderful disclosure. Maybe Nina and Dan assumed anyone hearing this would draw the obvious conclusion. Or, being so familiar with the turf, didn't even think it noteworthy.

It's not too much of a reach to conclude that this might just typify much of governmental practice, including its pronouncements on Y2K. Frankness in private, speechifying in public.

-- Tom Carey (, February 08, 1999


Prediction: Not a single US Senator will go hunry or shiver in the year 2000; some US Representative might since some of them are too stupid to pour (I use the word "rainwater" on the public forum) out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

-- Puddintame (, February 08, 1999.

Once upon a time I believed that people basically spoke their minds. I was quite young & simply didn't know any better...

Think, for a moment, about your interactions with your supervisor or customers. Do you speak frankly with them?

When a customer calls wondering why their widget order hasn't arrived, do you tell them the truth? What if the truth is that your company down-sized your best machine shop personnel, instead relying on outsourcing, which has failed to deliver. The truth is your company screwed up. You don't know when the widgets will ship. Do you speak frankly?

When your CEO asks why the report on widget sales in the lower forty-eight isn't on his/her desk, do you tell the truth? Do you say that you just couldn't get into looking at numbers last night - that you instead spent the evening with the family?

I don't wish to defend politicians. The fact is they are not much different than the sheeple. Honesty is a long, lonely limb to climb out on. One must have no fear. I am happy only when I am firmly out on that limb.

Care to apply percentages based upon the people you know & their level of honesty? I hope for all of you that the percentage of honesty is high.

Make no mistake, I demand honesty first & formost from myself as well as the people I choose to share my life with. Those I associate with in the "outside world" I cannot control. My experience is that most people are basically dishonest. That's a shame.

BTW, I enjoy reading your posts, Tom. Thanks for making the effort to share your ideas!

-- Bingo1 (, February 08, 1999.

I should have noted that my only surprise in this was at this Senator's extraordinary candor about the Senate's general lack of same in their public utterances. A rare tactical lapse.

-- Tom Carey (, February 08, 1999.

Of course folks are more candid in private. I've had dinner with Congressmen; they chat readily (and sometimes honestly) if it's off-the-record. A bunch of House and Senate congressional staffers showed up at my Y2K: Halfway to Apocalypse party last weekend. Late Saturday evening, having downed a few drinks, they're not too different from the rest of us. Largely unprincipled, perhaps, but they'll still talk freely.

-- Declan McCullagh (, February 08, 1999.


Don't leave us hanging please. What were the people saying?

-- d (d@usedtobedgi.old), February 08, 1999.

It may be old news, it may be the way things work inside the Beltway -- I stilll think it's appalling that the people supposedly representing us in the working of the Government are unwilling to speak frankly to the people who elected them. But easy to speak so among their Senatorial peers, or (when tipsy) on an off-the-record basis only.

It's no mystery why trust in government is low. The Italian city-states of the Renaissance come to mind, the environment in which Machiavelli lived and worked. In his The Prince,

"Machiavelli offered a monarchical ruler advice designed to keep that ruler in power. He recommended policies that would discourage mass political activism, and channel subjects' energies into private pursuits. Machiavelli wanted to persuade the monarch that he could best preserve his power by the judicious use of violence, by respecting private property and the traditions of his subjects, and by promoting material prosperity. Machiavelli held that political life cannot be governed by a single set of moral or religious absolutes, and that the monarch may sometimes be excused for performing acts of violence and deception that would be ethically indefensible in private life."

(Cribbed from

A few of these recommendations have yet to be implemented.

-- Tom Carey (, February 08, 1999.

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